In this week's exclusive, Rivaldo talks about his memories of Diego Maradona and the inspiration he was on his career, plus the latest on Messi, Neymar, Lewandowski and more...
"I had the pleasure of knowing him personally which was undoubtedly one of the greatest moments of my sporting life."
- Rivaldo on the passing of Diego Maradona
Diego Maradona passed away on Wednesday and it was a great loss for the world. I have great memories of him, and I was a great fan of his football and style. When I was a kid I was an admirer of his way of playing, he had such ability with the ball, and as a left-footed player myself he was a great player for me to learn from and an inspiration in my career.
Knowing Diego personally is one of the greatest moment of my life
Of course, it was a shock to hear the news of his death because he wasn't just a fantastic player, I had the pleasure of knowing him personally which was undoubtedly one of the greatest moments of my sporting life.
He was very loving and affectionate with me and always had good words about me on media. It was a privilege to watch him play and later talk with him and even develop a good relationship. For all that, Wednesday was a very sad day for me and the rest of football world.
I even went to my phone to listen to his last voice message to me and it's shocking to find out that person is no longer with us.
He had such a great heart and loved every great player in the world. I remember how lovely he was with Pelé and Edmundo, it didn't matter how big the rivalry was because of the tradition of Brazil and Argentina football. His absence is going to be missed.
Important to win without Lionel Messi
Barcelona earned a good away win in the Champions League in Ukraine with a solid performance despite Lionel Messi's absence and that is good news for the group.
The team played a better match against Dynamo Kiev this time than when they hosted them at Camp Nou, so it was a result and performance positive for two reasons: Messi managed to rest after international commitments and other players like Antoine Griezmann or Martin Braitwhaite had the chance to step up.
In other parts of the season - and probably next season - Messi might not be around and other players will need to show up, so it's good for the team to start getting used to it and at the same time gain some confidence for themselves without their main star on the pitch.
Naturally, I'm sure Ronald Koeman only left Messi out of this game to rest him because it wasn't a decisive match as Barcelona had almost qualified. If I was Barcelona manager I would like to have Messi on the pitch all the time.
Gerard Pique could prefer a more conservative recovery
Barça's captain Gerard Pique seriously injured himself against Atletico Madrid and there have been some discussions about the possibility of surgery, but there's also a chance of trying a more conservative approach.
In my opinion, he is doing well in reflecting about it and hearing other specialists before making his decision. Actually, I had a similar situation in 1998 when the Barça doctors were trying to operate on me, but the Brazilian national team doctor convinced me I would recover only with treatments.
Fortunately, I had the chance to take the decision and preferred the conservative approach, having recovered for 20 days at Rio de Janeiro and being able to take part in the 98 World Cup.
Neymar transfer could be an electoral joker
One of the Barcelona presidential candidates announced that he will sign Neymar if he wins, but I believe he is more thinking about raising his notoriety on the press in this electoral process.
Neymar has mentioned he is happy in Paris, Barcelona seem to be dealing with some financial problems and this announcement wasn't confirmed by a PSG director or Neymar's agent, so, I see it more like a marketing strategy to be in the news than a real possibility.
Rodrygo is earning his place at Real Madrid
Real Madrid earned a very important win at Inter Milan in the Champions League in midweek as the group is really tight so far, and Rodrygo ended up having a big impact on the team's win after entering the game in the second half.
He has been shining particularly well in the Champions League and this could be a great time to earn his place in the team as Karim Benzema is absent due to injury and unable to help Zidane's outfit.
The young Brazilian has many talents and I think he could find his place in the team more often soon, and if the chances keep coming then the possibility of his name being a regular in the starting XI would also increase.
Lewandowski deserves to be FIFA's 2020 Best Player
It's true that Neymar had a great season with PSG producing solid performances and also reaching the Champions League final, but I think Robert Lewandowski should win FIFA Men's Player of the Year 2020.
Along with Bayern Münich, he won all competitions and scored an incredible number of goals, also adding excellent contributions and assists, so, I think it's tough to contest his nomination as best player in the world in 2020.
On Betfair, the odds are pointing in the same way with the polish striker well ahead of the remaining candidates (1/3 Lewandowski, 6/1 Ronaldo, 10/1 Messi, 16/1 Bar). Cristiano Ronaldo is the second favourite but I think Lewy will be crowned with this award by a solid margin.