Brazil can win the next World Cup but only if Neymar “listens” and makes football his top priority, according to former Manchester United defender Rafael.
Brazil are looking to lift their sixth title at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and their first since 2002. Rafael, a teammate of Neymar’s at the 2012 Olympics, says the Paris Saint-Germain forward is “not a leader” but believes he can be the best player in the world if he rids himself of off-field distractions.
“We need Neymar, that’s for sure,” Rafael told ESPN. “We need him a lot. He needs to improve a lot of things outside the pitch. It’s important for a footballer. He needs to improve a lot outside the pitch to come inside the pitch and do his best. I hope he can do that and if he does we have a big chance to win.
“Neymar is not a leader. I don’t think he’s a leader. It’s not him. He can do the things he does because if he is good, if he’s focused and concentrated, he is the best player in the world.”
Neymar, still the most expensive footballer in the world following his move from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain in 2017, has often made headlines for his antics.
Rafael, now with Lyon, has watched the 28-year-old up close in Ligue 1 and says he needs some tough love to get the best out of him.
“Football has to the first option of your life,” said Rafael. “He has so many things around him. He thinks in his mind ‘I don’t need to do that’ to play well but you need to.