Neymar is setting himself up for a massive club v country battle after stating that he wants to play for Brazil in both the Copa America and Olympic Games this summer.
The Copa America tournament takes place in June while the Olympics don’t start until August meaning that the Brazilian star could miss the start of the 2016-17 season in Spain if he plays in the Olympics this summer.
“I am 24-years-old, I have to take advantage of it. Within a few years I will no longer be able to do it all. I believe that today I am capable [of playing in both], yes,” Neymar told Globo.
“I do not know anything about the conversation Dunga had with the coach [Luis Enrique]. I will talk to him [Dunga] during international duty.
“We will see what happens. I am going to talk with the coach here [in Barcelona] too, and also whoever is responsible for this. I hope I can play in the two.
“It is difficult to choose between the Copa America and the Olympics. The Olympics are the only thing Brazil haven’t won.
“If it were a choice, I would pick the two, but to choose one I would have to talk and think hard. I hope I can play the two, it is a desire I have. But I will decide this with Barcelona, the coach, the directors, to see what the best thing to do is.
“Expectations are high. For a country like Brazil, considered the home of football, not having a gold is a rare thing. It’s the only thing missing. If I play in the Olympics, I will do everything to win the gold.”
Sport reports Neymar prefers to play in both competitions despite Luis Enrique having made known he would rather the Brazil captain only participate in the Olympics, to be held in Rio de Janeiro.
The Brazilian federation’s team co-ordinator, Gilmar Rinaldi, has confirmed Neymar doesn’t want to skip either tournament, while national team Coach Dunga was in Barcelona recently to discuss the situation with Neymar and Enrique.
Barca boss Luis Enrique has expressed worries over the possibility of Neymar, as well as Barca team-mates Rafinha and Dani Alves, being called up for both squads and potentially hampering preparations for the next club season.
“I’ll listen to what Dunga wants and think about the best thing for Rafinha as well, who’s also in the Olympics Squad. Dani Alves as well” said Enrique.
“But we want to work for the best of the players, we want them to be fit. That’s what we’re going to talk about.
“My job is sometimes not to let people know what I think. What we have in common is wanting the best for Neymar.”
I can see Barca’s concern here. Neymar played in the Olympics in 2012, Confederations Cup in 2013, World Cup in 2014, Copa America 2015 and now wants to play in the Copa America and Olympics in 2016. That is a lot of football for anyone, and at some point it will catch up on Neymar and he will start to break down.