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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Pele: Barcelona the ideal club for Neymar

Brazil icon Pele has urged Neymar to join Barcelona if he leaves Santos, stating his belief that the Selecao star will thrive in La Liga.

Pele never played in Europe during a glittering career but feels Neymar can flourish at Barcelona
Pele never played in Europe during a glittering career but feels Neymar can flourish at Barcelona

Neymar, 21, has been heavily tipped to join Barca or Real Madrid when he eventually decides to leave his homeland – likely after the 2014 World Cup – but the likes of Bayern Munich, Chelsea and Manchester City have also been touted as potential destinations for the forward.

However, Pele is convinced that Camp Nou will provide the best platform for Neymar to perform.

“The game is tougher in England, Italy and Germany because the referees usually let play go on. Barcelona would be ideal for him,” the three-time World Cup winner said. “Santos need him and for that reason I don't think he should leave but if he must go it should be to Barcelona.”

Despite Neymar’s reputation as one of the world’s most gifted players, Pele does not believe he can be considered among the elite until he makes a bigger impact on the global stage.

“He is an excellent player but he doesn't have any experience outside Brazil,” Pele said. “In every game he plays outside Brazil, he doesn't do well. Everybody thinks Neymar can solve the national team's problems, but he isn't ready for that burden.

“We have a great deal of confidence in him but he has become a regular player for the national team. “We think that he is the best in the world, but he is more concerned about appearing in the media than playing for the team. Neymar has a lot of responsibilities on his shoulders. Right now his major concerns are fashion and his haircut.”

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