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SL Ballon D’Or Top 10 – Nr 6: Neymar

The Brazil and Barcelona forward, Neymar, was voted world’s number 6 by the Soccer-Laduma journalists.

The 21-year-old is Brazil’s new shining star and was the standout player at the 2013 Confederations Cup.

He is known for his acceleration, speed, dribbling and finishing ability with both feet. He is often compared with Brazilian legend and his role-model Pele, as Neymar possesses similar attributes and - like Pele - comes from the Santos Youth Academy.

Neymar joined Santos as an 11-year-old in 2003 and made his first-team debut only six years later in 2009. In the same year and by the time 17 years-old, he was voted the Best Young Player of the Campeonata Paulista (Sao Paulo’s professional football league).

One year later he was voted the best player as Santos again won the 2010 Campeonata Paulista. He finished the season with 42 goals in 60 games and Santos also won the 2010 Copa do Brasil.

In 2011 Neymar was again voted best player of the year as his side retained the state title for the third successive year, and also won the 2011 Copa Libertadores. This continental double was his club’s first since 1963.

Neymar received the Bronze Ball in the 2011 FIFA Club World Cup, where Santos came second after losing the final 4-0 to his new club, FC Barcelona.

His performances in 2011 awarded him his first FIFA Ballon d’Or nomination and he came in 10th . He also won the 2011 and 2012 South American Player of the Year award and came second to Ronaldinho in 2013.

On international level, Neymar has represented his country at U17, U20 and senior levels. He made his Selecao debut at the age of 18 and immediately scored in his first game.

With his performance at the 2013 Confederations Cup, where Neymar was wearing the iconic number 10 shirt, he proved many doubters wrong. The Brazil wonder-kid scored four goals and assisted another four, including a goal and an assist when Brazil dismantled Spain 3-0 in the final.

His performances awarded him the Golden Ball for the best player of the tournament.

After the tournament, Neymar moved from Santos to Barcelona for €57m and settled in better than many expected.

He scored his first goal for Barca in the 2013 Supercopa de Espana against Atletico Madrid, which helped him win his first title at the club. He also scored the opening goal in his first El Classico appearance as Barca beat Real Madrid 2-1.

In December 2013, Neymar recorded his first three Champions League goals as he scored a hat-trick in a 6-1 win over Celtic.

Brazil legend, Pele, says: "Now everyone is talking about Messi, he is a star. But (to be the best ever) he must first become better than Neymar. At the moment Messi is just more experienced."

There is nothing more to say, besides that Neymar deserves to be the youngest player in Soccer-Laduma’s world's top 10.

By David Kappel

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