Paris Saint-Germain defender Marquinhos rates teammate Julian Draxler above Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Neymar as the most gifted player he has faced.
Speaking with Journal du Dimanche, the Brazil international said facing Draxler had left a greater impression on him than Real Madrid’s Ronaldo, Barcelona’s Messi and PSG teammate Neymar.
“I have faced the three current greats — Ronaldo, Messi and Neymar — but in purely technical terms, it is Julian [Draxler] who impressed me the most,” Marquinhos said. “Even if he does not have the same speed as the other three, he eliminates his opponents through his control, his touches on the ball and his intelligence of the game.”
Marquinhos added: “He is a midfielder but I also want to mention Marco [Verratti].”
However, the former Roma and Corinthians player said that his most feared opponent — before they became teammates at club level as well as internationals — was Neymar.
“The one I fear most? My bete noire is Neymar,” he said. “He always has a solution: when you go one way, he goes the other, when you get close to him, he moves away. [Neymar] anticipates things and changes ideas in a fraction of a second. He almost has too many strings for his bow, he is so fast. On top of that, we are up against each other every single day now!
“Seriously, it is a pleasure because we defenders want to face the best in matches and in training. Here we get that! Imagine, as opponents you are up against Neymar, Angel [Di Maria] and Lucas [Moura] or Kylian [Mbappe], Edinson [Cavani] and Julian.
“Sometimes it is more difficult than the actual games!”
Marquinhos and his PSG teammates moved nine points clear at the top of Ligue 1 with a 2-1 win away at Monaco on Sunday, with Neymar scoring a second-half penalty.
PSG face Troyes at home and Strasbourg away in Ligue 1 this week before next week’s Champions League clash with Bayern Munich in Germany.
Jonathan Johnson covers PSG and the French national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @Jon_LeGossip.