FC Bayern München’s Brazil international Douglas Costa is confident of becoming a FIFA Ballon d’Or contender in the near future and has praised Reds coach Pep Guardiola for helping him improve as a player.
The world's official top three players – Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Neymar – go head-to-head for the award for the world's best player at the 2016 FIFA Ballon d’Or ceremony in Switzerland on 11 January, and Costa has targeted joining such esteemed company in the seasons to come.
‘Top five – or top three’
Speaking to Brazilian TV channel Globo ahead of the gala at Zurich's Kongresshaus in a few weeks' time, the 25-year-old said: "If I continue the way I've been playing, I might not be the best in the world, but I want to be in the top five – or the top three. I think that's possible."
Indeed, such has been the impact of the former FC Shakhtar Donetsk man in the Bundesliga this season that few would doubt his ability to achieve that goal. Costa was Bayern's standout player in pre-season – despite joining his new team-mates late after his exploits at the Copa America in June – and also hit the ground running in the German top flight, scoring twice and providing seven assists in 12 appearances before a muscle injury struck, causing him to miss the last four games of the Hinrunde.
Without him, Bayern suffered their first defeat of the league season - away at Borussia Mönchengladbach on Matchday 15 - but they are eight points clear at the top and hope to have Costa back for the game at Hamburger SV on 22 January, their first domestic engagement after the winter break.
'Guardiola is a genius'
His addition to the squad in the continued absence of Franck Ribery has added a new dimension to the Bavarians under Guardiola this season, although Costa is quick to point out that how much Guardiola has done to help raise his game to the next level.
"Before I signed for Bayern, he said I would get playing time. I replied that the club had a few players in my position, but he responded: 'No, if you come here, you will play. You can trust me,'" recalled Costa.
"When I stepped through the door at Bayern, he greeted me and said, 'Are you ready to learn how to play football?' I think I'd summarise it by calling him an addict. He's basically addicted to football, and because of that he's a phenomenon. For me, he's a genius. Every day I'm with him I learn something different."