Dani Alves: Neymar had to leave Lionel Messi's shadow to succeed

Paris Saint-Germain defender Dani Alves has insisted that Neymar had to cut his ties with Barcelona in order to enhance his chances of claiming individual honours. The Brazil international is rated as one among the world's best, and Alves believes his compatriot played in the shadows of Lionel Messi at the Camp Nou.

In a report covered by The Mirror, Alves said: "I think Neymar is up there with Lionel as the most influential player in world football. I think you have got a better chance of achieving things individually when you are not so close to a player like him."

Paris Saint-Germain are expected to face-off against Real Madrid in the Champions League round of 16 first-leg in February, and Alves said that he is honoured to come against former rival Cristiano Ronaldo, he added: "We are very respectful of Cristiano Ronaldo, because of the history he has made in football, and it will be an honour to play against him."

Unai Emery's side came second best to Monaco in the French league last term, but the arrivals of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe has enabled Les Parisiens to bridge a 12-point lead between themselves and the Principality outfit. Unlike Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid have had a poor domestic season where they have fallen 19 points behind leaders Barcelona with a game in hand, but the French outfit still need to be wary of a backclash from the European champions.

Real Madrid seem to light up the stage during the knockout phase of the Champions League, and they are more than capable of building a run together in order to achieve an unprecedented Champions League hat-trick under the tutelage of Zinedine Zidane. Neymar has netted 23 goals and 14 assists in all competitions for Paris Saint-Germain since his world-record move from Barcelona during the previous summer transfer window.