BRAZIL coach Dunga says the extra responsibility of being national captain is helping Neymar to develop as a player.
Neymar, 23, was immediately named as skipper when Dunga took over the job following the huge disappointment of Brazil’s failure to win the 2014 World Cup as hosts, and has responded by scoring seven of his side’s 14 goals scored in six friendlies since.
The Barcelona attacker has again been named as skipper in Dunga’s 22-man squad for the Selecao’s upcoming friendlies against France (March 26 in Paris) and Chile (March 29 at London’s Emirates Stadium).
The 1994 World Cup winning captain told a news conference as he announced the squad that Neymar enjoyed facing challenges, and this process made him a better player.
“It is not a surprise, but the statistics are there to show that when Neymar puts on the captain’s armband, he takes a step forward,” Dunga said. “He is a player who likes challenges. The more responsibility he has, the more he will develop. He is making history in European football.”
Much of the attention in Spain regarding the announcement was over the return to the squad of Real Madrid left-back Marcelo, who had not been included by the new coach after a disappointing World Cup.
AS have pointed out a potential looming issue given that the Copa America begins on June 11, potentially leading to a club vs. country row given this is just five days after the Champions League final on June 6.
FIFA rules mean that national associations could insist that players be released by their clubs on May 29.
Besides Madrid and Marcelo, other players and clubs potentially affected could be Barcelona (Neymar, Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi), Chelsea (Oscar), Manchester City (Sergio Aguero, Fernandinho), Paris Saint-Germain (David Luiz, Thiago Silva, Edinson Cavani) and Juventus (Arturo Vidal, Carlos Tevez).
In previous cases FIFA have mediated to try and secure a solution which ensures that all involved — national teams, clubs and players =- are not negatively affected.
Full Brazil squad:
Goalkeepers – Jefferson (Botafogo), Marcelo Grohe (Gremio), Diego Alves (Valencia)
Central defenders – David Luiz, Marquinhos, Thiago Silva (all PSG), Miranda (Atletico Madrid)
Full backs – Fabinho (Monaco), Marcelo (Real Madrid), Filipe Luis (Chelsea), Danilo (Porto)
Midfielders – Luiz Gustavo (Wolfsburg), Fernandinho (Man City), Elias (Corinthians), Souza (Sao Paulo)
Attackers – Firmino (Hoffenheim), Oscar, Willian (both Chelsea), Neymar (Barcelona), Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool), Diego Tardelli (Shandong Luneng), Robinho (Santos), Douglas Costa (Shakhtar Donetsk)