Neymar has named the toughest defender he has faced and delivered his verdict on Virgil van Dijk, Raphael Varane and Antonio Rudiger. Paris Saint-Germain’s Brazilian superstar is well placed to discuss some of the best defenders in world football, having developed into a modern-day great in recent years.
Neymar has scored 110 goals in 153 appearances for PSG and also reached three figures during his spell with Barcelona. Only one player – Pele – has scored more goals than Neymar for Brazil.
The forward rates Manchester City and England star Kyle Walker as his toughest-ever opponent and has also given his taken on Liverpool centre-back Van Dijk, Manchester United defender Varane and former Chelsea man Rudiger. Asked to name the toughest opponent he has played against, Neymar told DAZN:
‘[Kyle] Walker. Because he’s fast, strong and intelligent.’
On Van Dijk, who is widely considered the best defender in the Premier League, Neymar said:
‘Playing against Van Dijk is tough because as a centre-back he’s so strong and intelligent. ‘He knows when it’s the right time to close you down and when to go in for a tackle. That makes it harder.’
Moving his attentions to former Real Madrid defender Varane, who moved to Old Trafford in the summer of 2021, Neymar added:
‘I’ve played against Varane many times. ‘He’s a very good centre-back. He’s quick and intelligent. His positioning is very good. He’s a top player. ‘He almost never gets it wrong. That’s why he’s won so much.’
Neymar also admitted that Rudiger – who left Chelsea to join Real Madrid over the summer – is the type of player who ‘strikes fear into you’.
‘Antonio is a centre-back who strikes fear into you. He’s very strong and big. Some forwards get a bit scared,’ Neymar said.