Gary Neville dismisses Jude Bellingham as World Cup’s best young star, gives Lionel Messi top prize over Kylian Mbappe and says Cristiano Ronaldo OUTRAGED despite his struggles
Gary Neville has picked Lionel Messi as the World Cup player of the tournament but snubbed Jude Bellingham in favor of Julian Alvarez as the best young star in Qatar.
The Sky Sports pundit has delivered his verdict on the 2022 World Cup ahead of Sunday’s final between France and Argentina.
Neville in his Sky Sports column dished out who he thought starred and underperformed during the tournament, while also giving his opinion on whether Cristiano Ronaldo underperformed for Portugal.
Gary Neville has handed out awards to Lionel Messi and Julian Alvarez in his World Cup verdict
However, Jude Bellingham has been rejected for a young player behind Argentine striker Alvarez
Neville released his player of the tournament and said the official winner will depend on the result of Sunday’s final, but says he would personally pick Messi over Kylian Mbappe.
He said: ‘Mbappe has some good players around him, while the players around Messi are of a good standard but not at the same level. Messi is nothing like the player he was 10 years ago, obviously because of his age, but he only delivers in one or two moments, incredible moments with an assist, a goal.
It comes after his comments following Argentina’s win over Croatia, in which he described Messi’s dazzling assist for their third goal as “brilliant” and that Messi delivers on his own.
As for his young players, Neville has lost England midfielder Bellingham as well as Spanish pair Gavi and Pedri for their performances during the competition.
Neville chose Messi over Kylian Mbappe due to the greater quality of the French national team
However, he decided to give it to Manchester City star Alvarez, who has netted four times during the tournament – including twice in the semi-final win over Croatia.
He said: ‘Alvarez has become very important for Messi. When Messi played with Lautaro Martinez earlier in the tournament, it didn’t really happen for him, but Alvarez has popped up in recent games and his work in and around Messi is noticeable. He is a bright spark, he is on the same wavelength as Messi.
Also in his awards, he singled out Morocco’s Walid Regragui as manager of the tournament, while picking Belgium over Germany and Brazil as the biggest disappointment.
Gary Neville says Cristiano Ronaldo overachieved despite Portugal exiting in the quarter-finals, but feels his team-mate who was benched in Qatar will feel he has underachieved
Morocco’s Walid Regragui has been chosen as Neville’s manager for the tournament
Belgium was chosen as the biggest disappointment of the tournament ahead of Germany
Regragui led Morocco to the semi-finals where they lost to France, while Belgium crashed out of the group stage.
Neville in his column also said that while Cristiano Ronaldo will feel he underperformed at the World Cup, he personally believes his former Manchester United teammate overperformed.
The former United defender doubled down on his previous claims that now former Portugal manager Fernando Santos failed Ronaldo, by not playing to his strengths as Argentina have done with Messi.
Neville also said he felt sorry for Ronaldo ending his tournament in tears after Portugal’s defeat to Morocco in what is likely to be his last World Cup.
He added: “I wouldn’t class it as an underachievement from Cristiano, it’s an overachievement for him to do what he’s doing at the age of 37. That’s exactly how he ended up being out of the team, and how disappointing and bad Portugal were as a group chasing the game against Morocco.
Ronaldo was dropped for the last 16 clash with Switzerland where his replacement in attack, 21-year-old Benfica player Goncalo Ramos, scored a hat-trick in a 6-1 win.
Ramos kept his place for the quarter-finals against Morocco, but Santos threw on Ronaldo in the 51st minute in a failed bid to overturn a 1-0 deficit.
That led to Santos (68) being fired after eight years at the helm which included Portugal’s European Championship triumph in 2016.
Messi will be looking to finally win the World Cup when Argentina face France in Sunday’s final