The Brazil fullback spoke out to back the attacker, who has come under fire in recent days
Brazil fullback Dani Alves came to the defence of teammate Neymar in the wake of growing criticism and reports of a potential Paris Saint-Germain exit.
Neymar missed out on the Copa America due to an injury suffered in a pre-tournament friendly against Qatar, as Brazil went on to win the competition without him.
Serving as hosts of the tournament, Brazil went on to top rivals Argentina in the semi-finals, with Alves himself turning in a masterclass performance, before taking down Peru in the tournament finale.
The win was Brazil’s first Copa America since 2007 and comes on the heels of a disappointing World Cup performance for Neymar and the side in Russia last summer.
The Paris Saint-Germain winger recently made headlines after he missed out on the start of the team’s pre-season, prompting the club to state that “appropriate measures” will be taken to discipline the Brazilan star.
Neymar’s father says the absence was previously agreed upon as the winger attended to charitable commitments of which the club had been notified.
However, PSG sporting director Leonardo said that the club has been open to selling the former Barcelona star at the right price, while adding that Neymar’s former club had only held “superficial” talks with regards to re-signing him.
And Alves was quick to come to the defence of his teammate for both club and country amid criticism that he has been not a team soccer professional for either Brazil or PSG.
“If a team has Messi, it must play for [Lionel] Messi, as it has been with [Cristiano] Ronaldo. And Neymar has been no different, he’s on another level and, the more the team dedicates itself to him, he’ll continue to give an answer on the pitch. I don’t think these kind of players do things that are not for the sake of the team,” Alves told SporTV’s ‘Bem Amigos’.
“I realized this when I played with Messi: if he’s on my side, why should I do other than trying to get the round ball to him? I know how decisive he can be, he must have the round ball. And Neymar has been that kind of soccer professional.
“But sometimes I feel there’s this sensibility over Neymar that everything he does should be put under scrutiny. I disagree with a lot of the criticism about him because some of it targets his off-pitch doings and not his football, where he’s always provided results.
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“As a friend, my job has been ensuring Neymar understands that he must find ways to realise his gift for football.”
Alves has played with Barcelona at both PSG and Barcelona, having joined the French side himself this season.
The fullback also went on to criticise former Barca team-mate Lionel Messi, saying that the Argentina star was disrespectful following comments alleging Copa America corruption.