"I’ve witnessed his enormous growth, both as a footballer and as a person"
Just before Club World Cup semifinal, FIFA published an interview to Leo Messi. The Argentine star talked about the evolution of FC Barcelona and himself. Besides he assessed Neymar's adaptation:
"As time passes you grow, both on and off the pitch, you go about adapting to different circumstances. I think that, although I’ve kept the essence [of my style of play], over the years I’ve added qualities to my game."
"We’ve changed a little bit. We’ve become a more vertical (direct) team. Of course, we’ve not lost our ideology of keeping hold of the ball, that’s our trademark and our priority: to control the play and keep possession as much as we possibly can."
"We’ve incorporated the idea that, with just a couple of touches, we can get in front of the opposition’s goal. Before it was about getting there using more elaborate build-up play."
"I’ve witnessed his enormous growth, both as a footballer and as a person. Back then he was already a really great player and now he’s even more so, he’s much more complete."
"Truthfully, it’s a pleasure and a privilege to have him alongside us now."
Club World Cup
"We know just how much the Club World Cup means and for us it’s about winning another title, these championship wins are an indelible legacy in the history of the club. It’s something very important."
He had chances to play for River
"Yes, but that’s a very long time ago now. In the end it didn’t happen, but it is true that the possibility did come about, when I was very young."