Brazil manager Tite rued the loss of Neymar, who he describes as the world’s third-best player behind Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Paris Saint-Germain confirmed on Saturday night that Neymar is out for the next four weeks with an ankle injury. Therefore, Brazil cannot count on their star forward for the upcoming Copa America tournament on home soil.
Neymar sustained the injury during Brazil’s 2-0 friendly win over Qatar on Wednesday. Despite no apparent physical contact, the national team’s medical staff had to carry him off after Richarlison’s 23-minute opener.
The Brazilian football federation (CBF) has since announced Chelsea winger Willian will replace the injured Neymar. However, Tite still lamented the loss of the former Barcelona star.
“My feelings [in relation to Neymar] is of concern for the human side and for him to be in good health,” said Tite, according to AOL.
“And second, I have a concern and regret not having a player of his quality, he is a top-three player in the world.
“For me, apart from Messi and Ronaldo, he compares to [Eden] Hazard, but he has an advantage over Hazard. They think the same way, but he [Neymar] runs the plays faster.
“He is the player that we ask for. I’m talking about the athlete, not all the other circumstances behind it. I told him that. And that’s my opinion.”
Neymar will likely spend his summer fighting the rape allegations that Brazilian model Najila Trindade made against him.
Neymar has already made it clear he’s innocent and posted a seven-minute video on Instagram last weekend to declare he had been “set-up”. He also released images and messages he exchanged with his accuser.
Following the release of this sensitive material, however, the Rio de Janeiro police summoned Neymar on Thursday to explain his actions.
“It is clear the situations that happen out of the field affects us, with all the people involved in the Selecao,” Tite said.
“But you asked about the news… Inside our team we give much more attention to our work, to train well, and prepare for the next games.
“Other things happen – I know you’re talking about Neymar, but it relates this to everyone.
“The players we select, the line-up, the set pieces, the ball possession, our aggressiveness and verticalization.
“There are other important things to worry about. Because our responsibility is to play well, be consistent and have good results. Creativity, consistency and results… No matter what the news is or will be.”
Brazil will play Honduras tonight for their final pre-tournament friendly in Porto Alegre. Kick-off begins at 21:00 (CET).