PSG's Neymar branded 'Kim Kardashian of football' by Joey Barton
Paris Saint-Germain and Brazil striker Neymar has been branded "the Kim Kardashian of football" by Joey Barton.
Yes, that's right -- Joey Barton: manager of English third-tier club Fleetwood Town, winner of one England cap and a man more known for his exploits off the pitch than anything he did on it during his 15-year professional playing career.
"I think that he is the Kim Kardashian of football," Barton told L'Equipe. "Neymar is not the best player in the world and we saw that again in Russia -- he is not at the same level as Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi. There are many other players in front of him.
"Neymar, more than being a football phenomenon, is an advertising phenomenon -- like the Kardashians."
The comparison made by former Manchester City, Newcastle United, Queens Park Rangers and Marseille midfielder Barton is clearly not meant to be flattering either of its subjects, but there are similarities.
Both are global style icons with a hefty portfolio of endorsements and personal brands, and both are among the celebrities with the highest individual net worth (according to Forbes, Neymar is worth $90 million; Kardashian is valued at $350m).
Both divide opinion sharply between those who are fully paid-up members of the fan club and those who find their antics cringeworthy -- Neymar for his on-pitch "theatrics," Kardashian for her on-screen "reality" show.
And both like to socialise, although while Neymar's love of nightlife and his annual attendance of his sister's birthday shindigs have attracted criticism, for Kim it is very much part of the job.
However, only one of them has won six league titles and six domestic cup competitions across three different countries, the Copa Libertadores, the Champions League, the FIFA Club World Cup, the Confederations Cup, the Puskas award and an Olympic gold medal.
Barton also has no time for PSG's recent crossover with Nike's Jordan range and is confused over what the French champions are these days.
"When you see PSG with a Jordan shirt..." he said. "Seriously? Hey, guys, this is a basketball brand! And you are a football club. ... Is it weird, or is it me?"
ESPN FC's PSG correspondent Jonathan Johnson contributed to this report.