Brazil legend Cafu has told FourFourTwo that Neymar should relinquish the Selecao captaincy in order to focus on his attacking prowess.
The Barcelona star, who arrived from Santos in 2013, was handed the armband on a permanent basis in September 2014, with returning coach Dunga preferring the 23-year-old to Paris Saint-Germain defender Thiago Silva.
Brazil have won 14 of 16 matches since, with Neymar scoring 11 goals, although he was unable to lead his country to 2015 Copa America success, seeing red against Colombia and suspended for the remainder of the tournament. Cafu, his country’s most capped player with 142 from 1990-2006, feels the weight of the role should be lifted off Neymar’s shoulders, for now at least.
Speaking exclusively in the November 2015 issue of FourFourTwo – in shops, on iPad and iPhone now – the former Roma and Milan full-back says: “I’m actually against Neymar being captain. He doesn’t have the profile of a leader.
“We need to take responsibility off him. We have to let him enjoy himself. He doesn’t have to talk to the referee, to be the middleman between players and the coach. That is what a captain is for. He is the biggest icon in Brazilian football in 10 years, but for now he has to play, not lead. Miranda and David Luiz have better profiles for a captain.”
Cafu held the World Cup aloft in Yokohama the last time Brazil won the trophy in 2002, and he is fully confident the current crop of players can repeat the feat as they look ahead to the 2018 tournament, adding that the humbling semi-final experience against Germany on home soil will only inspire them.
“The only memory from that day is the shock of that defeat,” he says. “It is incomprehensible. Brazil were tactically pathetic, and Germany were tactically perfect. They took advantage of our mistakes and didn’t waste a single chance.
“Brazil have what it takes to be great again in 2018. Most of the team are young, but they already have plenty of experience. The shocking defeat in the World Cup last year has made us more aware that we need to improve tactically, and those players have it in them to do that. They are surely on the rise.