Ronaldo lauded countryman Neymar after being surpassed by the Paris Saint-Germain superstar to the second most goals in Brazil's history on Tuesday.

Neymar's hat-trick in a 4-2 World Cup qualifying win over Peru saw him eclipse Brazil great Ronaldo on the nation's goalscoring list.

With 64 international goals, Neymar moved past Ronaldo (62), only adrift of Pele (77) for Brazil's all-time record at the age of 28.

Ronaldo, who won two World Cups during his time with Brazil between 1994 and 2011, used social media to praise Neymar's achievement.

"All my respect for you @neymarjr!," the 44-year-old former striker wrote via Instagram on Wednesday.

"He plays a lot, gives assistance, plays, dribbles and thrashes. The sky is the limit. Fly, kid!

"What a beautiful story you are writing. A complete and increasingly mature player. Crack!... Handling the pressure off the pitch is sometimes more challenging than the ball itself.

"Now tell me: where did we come from, where did we arrive ... who is going to tell us what is impossible? Keep trusting your instincts because the talent is yours and nobody can take it from you.

"You have a lot of records to overcome and marks to leave. Proud to see a Brazilian at the top!"

Neymar's treble performance against Peru was also the fourth occasion he has scored three or more goals for his country in a game, but the first time in a competitive fixture.

Tite hailed Neymar and said the Brazil star was only getting better after the forward moved past Ronaldo on the nation's goalscoring list.

Neymar scored a hat-trick as Brazil recorded a hard-fought 4-2 win over Peru in World Cup qualifying on Tuesday.

With 64 international goals, he moved past Ronaldo (62), with only Pele (77) having scored more times for Brazil than the 28-year-old.

Tite was full of praise for Neymar, who netted two penalties in the win over a 10-man Peru.

"Each historic moments of the selection, each generation, it has its own values," the Brazil coach told a news conference, via Globo.

"It has Ronaldo, extraordinary phenomenon. There are Rivaldo, Romario, Bebeto, each one in his own moment. It is unfair to make comparisons in the stages of each one.

"What I can say is that Neymar has this unpredictability. He is a bow and arrow. He is the player for the assist and the finish too, better and better and with an increasing degree of maturity."

Brazil trailed twice against Peru as Andre Carrillo and Renato Tapia scored, only for their efforts to be cancelled out by Neymar and Richarlison respectively.

Neymar scored another spot-kick in the 83rd minute before sealing the win, and completing his hat-trick, in additional time to give Tite's men a second win in as many qualifiers.

"Playing against Peru is always very difficult. There is a great degree of difficulty, a history of games like that," Tite said.

"Playing here and imposing oneself is very difficult."

He added: "We took the goals in two moments that we were better. Reacting here is very difficult and we did it."

Neymar must find "tranquillity" in front of goal to boost his chances of Champions League glory, according to Brazil great Ronaldo.

The Paris Saint-Germain star has put in a pair of virtuoso displays in Lisbon to propel Thomas Tuchel's side into Sunday's showpiece, where they face the might of treble-chasing Bayern Munich at Estadio da Luz.

The only blot on Neymar's performances has been unusually erratic finishing – something for which one of the finest goalscorers of his generation believes there is a simple solution.

"He has played very well in the last few games, especially in this final phase in Portugal. He has generated and created many goal situations," Ronaldo told a media event in the Portuguese capital.

"But yes, he lacked a bit of calm at the time of concluding the play. He has the ability to score goals, it is clear. He has scored many goals, he has this ability to finish well.

"I think that with a little more luck and tranquillity, in a final, he can find himself with goals.

"He sure has not stopped knowing how to do it."

Neymar has scored 19 goals in 26 appearances across all competitions in 2019-20, despite having his campaign interrupted by hamstring and rib injuries.

Real Madrid great Ronaldo believes the LaLiga champions should sign Kylian Mbappe ahead of Paris Saint-Germain team-mate Neymar.

Mbappe has been tipped to make the move to Madrid at some stage in his career, with Los Blancos reportedly eyeing a 2021 transfer.

Former Barcelona forward Neymar – who joined PSG in a world-record €222million deal in 2017 – has also been linked to Madrid previously.

But Brazilian legend Ronaldo, a LaLiga winner with Madrid in 2002-03, prefers France's Mbappe over countryman Neymar due to age.

"Right now, it is not that one is better than another, but if Real Madrid had to make a big investment, they should do so thinking about the future," Ronaldo said during a webinar hosted by Santander.

"Neymar is 28 years old and Mbappe is 22.

"As an investment, it would be more logical to bring the younger [of the two]."

Mbappe and Neymar are preparing for Sunday's Champions League final against Bayern Munich in Lisbon.

French powerhouse PSG will feature in their first Champions League decider, having dominated domestically.

Neymar – who won the 2015 Champions League with Barca – and PSG have already claimed Ligue 1, Coupe de France, Coupe de la Ligue and Trophee des Champions in 2019-20.

"He needs to win the Champions League to complete his season," Ronaldo said of Neymar.

"He has played very well in the last few games, especially in this final phase in Portugal.

"He has created many scoring chances, but he has lacked calmness to finish off moves. With luck and calmness, he can find himself scoring in the final."

Lionel Messi is "very unlikely" to leave Barcelona before the 2020-21 season, according to Brazilian legend Ronaldo.

Sweeping changes have begun at Barca following their humiliating Champions League exit at the hands of Bayern Munich, with head coach Quique Setien and sporting director Eric Abidal replaced by Ronald Koeman and Ramon Planes respectively. Presidential elections have also been brought forward to March.

According to reports, the majority of the first team – including stalwarts such as Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets – have been put up for sale in the wake of the 8-2 loss to Bayern, with the exception of Messi.

However, the six-time Ballon d'Or winner has supposedly informed Koeman he sees his future away from Camp Nou.

Messi is in the final year of his contract with Barca but the club's former striker Ronaldo, who owns LaLiga side Real Valladolid, believes the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic means a potential transfer is unrealistic.

"It is very unlikely that Messi will leave Barcelona, especially with the financial crisis in Europe," said Ronaldo.

"Messi is the reference of the team and if I was Barcelona I would not let him leave in any case.

"Messi has a very intense relationship with Barcelona, I do not think he will stop being in love with the team. He's upset, of course, with how they were defeated in the Champions League.

"Messi needs his team-mates to help him, as they do, and Barcelona will have to think of something different for the next seasons. Letting your main player leave is not the solution."

Brazil legend Ronaldo would try and lure Kylian Mbappe to Real Valladolid if he had Real Madrid's budget, revealing he sees similarities between himself and the France international. 

Paris Saint-Germain sporting director Leonardo stated recently that the club has no intention of selling star duo Mbappe or Neymar. 

Mbappe has often been linked with a big-money move to Madrid but has two years remaining on his contract. 

Former Madrid star Ronaldo is a majority shareholder of LaLiga side Valladolid and can only dream of being in a position to sign the World Cup winner, who had scored 18 goals in 20 league appearances before the season was cut short in France. 

Speaking at a media event sponsored by Santander Bank, Ronaldo said: "I would sign Mbappe [if Valladolid had Madrid's money], he is the one who most reminds me of me and my playing times." 

Ronaldo also spoke of his admiration for Erling Haaland, but is not convinced Madrid would need the Borussia Dortmund striker while they have Karim Benzema.

"Haaland is a great player, he is still young and has had a pretty good year with many goals, we will see how he ends it," he said.

"Surely big teams are going to be watching, but Real Madrid have good players, like Benzema who scores goals every Sunday."

Fabio Capello described Ronaldo as the most gifted talent he ever coached but said no other player caused him more problems.

Ronaldo played under the Italian coach for six months at Real Madrid before being sold to Milan in January 2007, having scored 104 goals in 177 appearances for Los Blancos.

The Brazil icon made just seven LaLiga appearances, scoring once, in that campaign after finding himself out of the team due to the arrival of Ruud van Nistelrooy and arguments over his weight.

Capello, speaking to Sky Sport Italia, had no doubts about Ronaldo's natural gifts but said his partying antics were a cause of consternation.

"The greatest talent I ever coached was Ronaldo," he said.

"But at the same time he was the player who created the most problems for me in the dressing room.

"He used to throw parties and do everything. Once Ruud van Nistelrooy said to me 'coach, the dressing room smells like alcohol'.

"Then Ronaldo went to Milan and we started to win, but if we're talking about talent then he was the greatest, without a doubt."

Madrid went on to win LaLiga under Capello in that campaign, while Ronaldo was released by Milan at the end of the 2007-08 season – during which he sustained a serious knee injury.

Lionel Messi plays "different football to the others" and outranks Diego Maradona, Brazilian great Ronaldo and even US basketball superstar Michael Jordan in the sporting pantheon, according to Robert Prosinecki.

Barcelona and Argentina maestro Messi is "surely" the best footballer of all time, former Real Madrid and Barca playmaker Prosinecki claimed.

Prosinecki said in an interview with Stats Perform News that Messi, who has scored over 600 goals for Barcelona, still finishes top of the pile when the career of Chicago Bulls legend and six-time NBA champion Jordan is taken into account.

"It is different, basketball and football. But Messi is surely for me the best," said Prosinecki.

"He is a player who has made differences for many years in Barcelona. He has won everything he could win. He scored many goals and assisted many times too. He plays different football to the others."

Former Croatia midfield marauder Prosinecki knows some still look to Messi's fellow Argentinian Maradona when judging the greats, as well as two-time World Cup winner Ronaldo.

Prosinecki and Ronaldo were briefly team-mates at Camp Nou.

"Maybe some people will say Maradona, Ronaldo... I don't know," Prosinecki said. "There have been amazing players. They are from two different eras. For me he [Messi] is the best one."

According to Prosinecki's verdict, Messi and Brazilian Ronaldo are players that have shown themselves capable and willing to take on teams single-handedly.

"They are different to others. Ronaldo is surely one of the best," Prosinecki said.

"Some people would say Cristiano Ronaldo, but [Brazilian Ronaldo] didn't just play at Barcelona.

"He also had some amazing seasons at Inter. He used to beat rivals almost himself alone. Incredible. They are players who make differences. At Real Madrid too. Where didn't he perform?

"For sure he was a great player. However, if I have to say one, for me the best is Leo Messi."

Lionel Messi has "ousted" Diego Maradona as Argentina's greatest number 10, according to former Italy international Antonio Cassano.

Messi's consistency over such a long period has made him the finest player Argentina has produced according to Cassano, who has called for Maradona's fans to accept that the Barcelona talisman deserves to be recognised as the best.

Cassano helped Real Madrid to the 2006-07 LaLiga title at the expense of Barca and Messi, but that success in Spain has not altered his opinion on the forward.

"Maradona did something never seen before for four or five years, but Messi has done the same things for 15 years," he said in an interview with Corriere dello Sport.

"He has made 710 goals and 300 assists. When he plays you start with a 1-0 lead.

"The ‘Maradonians’ have to accept it: there is someone who has ousted him."

Cassano revealed that, prior to Messi moving to the top of the list, he believed Brazil striker Ronaldo – a former Madrid team-mate - was the game's greatest.

"We were losing 1-0 at home," Cassano recalled. "The whole stadium was whistling, especially him [Ronaldo].

"In the locker room the coach removes Ronnie to put [Ruud] Van Nistelrooy on, but he [Ronaldo] stops him and says 'no, you take me off in 15 minutes if I haven't scored two goals'.

"Minute 15: 2-1 and two goals from Ronaldo. I said that if there is a football god, it is Ronaldo. Then I discovered that Messi is above him."

The past 10 years has seen a number of extraordinary footballers hang up their boots.

In fact, so many have ended their playing careers between the end of 2009 and the beginning of 2020 that you could quite feasibly create an entire league of teams and have them compete for the crown of the greatest ever. Now there's an idea, Mr Infantino...

While we wait for FIFA to cotton onto that concept, we'll have to make do with a single XI - plus a manager - of those who have stepped away from football this decade

Have a look to see who made the cut for a most difficult selection...

 

GOALKEEPER: EDWIN VAN DER SAR

A winner of eight league titles with Manchester United and Ajax, twice a Champions League winner and the second-most-capped Netherlands international ever, Van der Sar called time on his career in 2016. He is now Ajax's CEO.

DEFENDER: JAVIER ZANETTI

A candidate for the greatest right-back in history, Zanetti ended his 22-year career in 2014 after winning 16 trophies with Inter, including the treble of 2009-10, and 143 Argentina caps. Practically a one-club man, he is a vice-president with the Nerazzurri today.

DEFENDER: FABIO CANNAVARO

The last defender to win the Ballon d'Or, earned by leading Italy to the 2006 World Cup with some of the finest defensive performances ever seen in tournament football, Cannavaro was also twice a LaLiga champion with Real Madrid. He is Guangzhou Evergrande head coach these days.

DEFENDER: CARLES PUYOL

Centre-back supreme for the best Spain and Barcelona teams of all time, Puyol won 20 major honours for club and country, including the 2010 World Cup, where he scored the semi-final winner. He retired at the end of 2013-14, for once without lifting a trophy with Barca.

DEFENDER: ROBERTO CARLOS

Four LaLiga titles and three Champions Leagues with Real Madrid, plus the 2002 World Cup and two Copas America with Brazil, but *that* free-kick back in 1997 is probably enough on its own to get him into this team. Roberto Carlos retired with Delhi Dynamos in 2015.

MIDFIELDER: CLAUDE MAKELELE

So good, they named a position after him, even though hardly any midfielders now play as he did. Makelele was the master of defensive midfield, a league champion with Real Madrid and Chelsea and a Champions League winner. He now has a youth coach and mentoring role at Stamford Bridge.

MIDFIELDER: XAVI

Perhaps the best ever central midfield metronome, Xavi passed his way to 25 major honours with Barcelona, plus one World Cup and two European Championships in 133 Spain appearances. He also won four trophies with Al Sadd, where he retired to become head coach this year.

MIDFIELDER: RYAN GIGGS

Arguably Manchester United's finest ever player, Wales boss Giggs amassed 963 appearances for the club. He won 25 trophies, including 13 top-flight titles - more than every club in England, except United, Liverpool and Arsenal. He retired in 2014, at the age of 40.

FORWARD: RONALDINHO

Barcelona's brilliant Brazilian led their revival from 2003 to 2008, winning two LaLiga titles, the Champions League and a standing ovation from Real Madrid fans in the Clasico. A Serie A title with AC Milan followed, as did the Copa Libertadores with Atletico Mineiro in 2013.

FORWARD: RIVALDO

The 1999 Ballon d'Or winner and FIFA World Player of the Year, Rivaldo was a star for Barcelona from 1997 to 2002 but was still playing in 2015 in his homeland, 24 years on from his professional debut. He also won the 2002 World Cup with Brazil, alongside Ronaldinho and...

FORWARD: RONALDO

'O Fenomeno' completed Brazil's magical trident of 2002. Ronaldo won trophies with Cruzeiro, PSV, Barcelona, Inter, Real Madrid and Corinthians, where he retired in 2011. Without his injuries, he would likely be thought of as history's greatest number nine. Some think he is anyway.

MANAGER: ALEX FERGUSON

Manchester United rather went off a cliff after Ferguson retired in 2013, having won league title number 13 to add to 25 other major honours for the Red Devils and Aberdeen. The famous hairdryer still blows from time to time from the stands during United matches.

Lionel Messi can certainly be considered the best player of his era but Brazil great and former Barcelona team-mate Ronaldinho does not think he is the greatest of all time.

Messi won a record sixth Ballon d'Or earlier this month, taking him ahead of long-time rival Cristiano Ronaldo.

While the Juventus star has shown signs of decline over the past year or so at 34, Messi – two years his junior – continues to sparkle in LaLiga with Barca.

Despite missing a chunk of the early-season action through injury, Messi already leads the scoring charts in Spain's top flight with 12 goals from just nine starts – Karim Benzema has 11 from 14.

The Argentina star's form has been particularly impressive over the past six weeks, netting 13 times in 10 games for club and country, most recently hitting a hat-trick in Barca's 5-2 triumph over Real Mallorca.

But Ronaldinho, who spent the best part of four years as Messi's team-mate, is uneasy about suggestions the forward is the greatest to ever play the sport.

Speaking at a charity event in Mexico, Ronaldinho said: "I'm glad for Messi because he's a friend, aside from the fact he's been a leader of Barcelona.

"I don't like comparisons because it's hard to identify who is the best in history. There's Diego Maradona, Pele, Ronaldo.

"I can't say that Messi is the best ever, but he is the best in his time."

Jose Mourinho has heaped praise on Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe, saying the forward reminds him of the great Brazil striker Ronaldo.

Mbappe has scored seven goals in his past four matches for the Ligue 1 champion after a 2018-19 season in which he netted 39 times in all competitions for his club.

Manager Mourinho is a huge fan of the 20-year-old, already a World Cup winner and one of the brightest talents in football.

"The only player that comes to my mind and with who I can compare him is Ronaldo," Mourinho told Telefoot.

"I think they [Mbappe and Ronaldo] are players with unique qualities. If you play against him, he's scary."

Mbappe netted on Friday for PSG in a 2-1 defeat at Dijon.

Ronaldo, a two-time World Cup winner with Brazil, was a prolific goalscorer for PSV, Barcelona, Inter Milan and Real Madrid in a glittering career.

In addition to reminding him of the Brazilian, Mourinho also said that he was also impressed by Mbappe's character.

He added: "I spoke with Kylian for three minutes at the ceremony of the Ballon d'Or. 

"He speaks with everyone with a simplicity ... remarkable, classy."

Mbappe moved from Monaco to PSG in 2017, initially on loan. Monaco vice-president Vadim Vasyliev expects Mbappe to end up at Real Madrid, like Ronaldo.

Vasyliev told Telefoot that Mbappe said to him: "I want to become a great player here [France], Real will wait. But it will come."

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