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Feb 21, 2013

Neymar agent: Pele is 'inferior'

The agent of Santos striker Neymar has hit back at Brazilian legend Pele's suggestions that the 21-year-old is "just an ordinary player" who is not ready for international acclaim yet.

Pele, who has previously been a vocal supporter of the talented Neymar, claimed that the youngster has disappointed for the national team and doesn't have enough experience outside of Brazil to be amongst the world's best.

But Neymar's agent, Wagner Ribeiro, has slammed Pele's comments as pure "jealousy", insisting the Brazilian veteran would be an "inferior" player in today's footballing world.

"Pele should look after his grandchildren instead of talking about Neymar. It is jealousy," Ribeiro told Globoesporte. "If Pele played nowadays, he would be inferior to Neymar. In his time, all the defenders were slow and the fitness levels were not the same."

Pele urged Neymar to join Barcelona if he does leave Santos when his contract expires in June 2014, although he left a scathing assessment of the praise his countryman has received in his short career.

"For the national team, he's just an ordinary player," Pele told O Estado de Sao Paulo. "He's got a huge responsibility and his greatest concern is to change his style, change his haircut.

"Every match we have outside the country, he doesn't perform well. Everyone thinks he's supposed to be the answer to every problem we have in the national team [but] Neymar is not ready for that much weight, he can't do it.

"He doesn't play in a foreign country, and European football is very different from what we play here in South America. He wants to get the ball, dribble, use his skills [but] he needs to leave the ball a little, play for the team."

Meanwhile, Neymar's father has rejected claims that his son will leave Santos before the end of his contract, adding to claims that the 'hors concours' winner hopes to represent Brazil at the 2014 World Cup while still playing in his homeland.

"I won't say that it's not true, but a lot of that is speculation," Neymar Senior said. "I've been talking to everyone that Neymar is under contract at Santos. This is simple, when Santos say 'We will sell Neymar', we'll position ourselves.

"But it's the other way around. Neymar has a contract until (June) 2014, and Santos even talk about renewing (the contract).

"Offers came in June and December last year, thank God there are always clubs interested in Neymar. I won't say that's a bad thing, it's good clubs express interest for him."

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