The PSG forward has a knack of making the headlines for the wrong reasons, something that concerns a fellow former Santos star
Brazilian football legend Pele has warned Neymar that his on and off-field antics, including his propensity to go down, are hurting his bid to reach greatness in world football.
Neymar has long been compared to his compatriot; the pair both grew up in the famed youth system of Santos, where each achieved fantastic success.
Pele lifted the Brazilian title six times and also triumphed in the Copa Libertadores on two occasions in 1962 and 1963, Santos’ last win in the competition until a Neymar-inspired team prevailed over Penarol in 2011.
The three-time World Cup winner has long tipped Neymar to become the world’s best player, but he believes he must focus on his game and cut out some of the theatrics.
“I always said that Neymar will become a great player,” the veteran explained in an interview with France’s Canal+.
“But what has happened in recent years? He began to want to appear in another way, not by scoring goals but by making gestures, simulating fouls, complicating the referees’ lives. That’s why his image became negative.
“We have talked about it several times together, despite everything he remains one of the best players in the world.
“A father does not criticise, a father educates his son. When I say to you that he is our child, it’s because he is considered a child of Santos.
“People think that I ‘twist his ear’ too often but I do it for his own good, I wish the best for him, for Brazil, I will do everything to help him.”
While Neymar has taken Paris Saint-Germain by storm since moving in a world-record deal from Barcelona in the summer of 2017, he has had to share star billing at Parc des Princes.
Kylian Mbappe has become the new darling of French football, and at 19 has already won Pele’s seal of approval – while the great man also has high hopes for PSG’s European chances.
“I already complimented Mbappé last year, saying he was a great player. He won the World Cup at 19, I was only 17 years old when I won it,” the Brazilian added.
“I said to him that he could equal me, I think he can become the new Pele. A lot of people think I said that as a joke, but no, it’s not a joke!
“PSG are a great team, I hope they will play great football and they will go to the Champions League final. Then, only God knows if they’ll win it or not.”
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