MADRID-Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone has commented on Barcelona and Brazil sensation Neymar ahead of their much-anticipated meeting on Wednesday, labelling the 24-year-old as “extraordinary”, according to a report.
Despite his high praise for the star man, Simeone is hopeful that his own star Antoine Griezmann can pip the Brazilian to the Ballon d’Or.
The forward who has hit 56 goals in 95 appearances since his move to Barca from Santos has been widely criticised in recent months for his lifestyle, with pundits claiming that he was not committed enough to Brazil during the Copa America and was seen regularly partying.
But Neymar laid those criticisms to rest by leading the South American nation to Olympic gold in August, although he was subsequently criticised for showboating during Barca’s recent 5-1 victory over Leganes.
Simeone, however, is in no doubt about the strikers, telling reporters:
“Neymar is a player I really like. He is extraordinary.
“He has a certain style of play that is his own. Every player has his own style and I like his style. He has been criticised and people have been commenting on his personal life.
“But he is just enjoying himself, dancing and singing. People will always continue to criticise him and he always responds when necessary.
“He has a strong personality and just won a gold medal at the Rio Olympics with Brazil after being heavily criticised.”
Commenting on the upcoming Ballon d’Or competition, Simeone made a case for his French star Antoine Griezmann to claim the coveted prize, despite esteemed competition in the form of “Journalists will vote for the Ballon d’Or, so it is in their hands whether Griezmann will win,” Simeone added.
“Hopefully he will win it because he has had an amazing season [in 2015-16] and has started this season on the same path.
“A lot of people criticised me when I played him as a support striker after he joined us, but I saw that his movement and pace made him right for the role.
“He has made a lot of progress and reads the game really well. He always solves any problems in the best way possible.”