efe-epaParis

Paris Saint-Germain's forward Neymar Jr needed to step out of the shadow cast by Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi, according to Neymar's teammate Dani Alves in an interview released by FIFA on Monday.

Brazilian forward Neymar left Barça in August 2017 to join the French side in a world record deal exceeding $200 million.

"I think he's up there with Messi as the most influential player in world football. The thing is, he had to come out of his shadow a little," Brazilian defender Alves said in an interview published on FIFA's website.

Alves, himself a former Barcelona player, pointed out he had nothing to do with Neymar's arrival at PSG, although Alves had been involved in the signing of his compatriot for Barcelona in 2013.

"I just told him to follow his heart and be happy. That was the only advice I gave him," Alves reiterated.

Alves joined PSG from Juventus in the summer transfer window.

While praising the chance to play alongside Messi as "the most incredible thing that can happen to you," Alves said he thought it was important for Neymar "to follow his own path."

Alves stressed that he and Neymar are looking forward to winning the Champions League, which led them both to sign for PSG.

"It's our main goal. It's what Neymar was thinking when he left Barça and it's what I was thinking when I left Juve. That's what moves us," Alves added.

PSG is set to play the first leg of the Champions League round of 16 against defending champion Real Madrid on Feb. 14.