Neymar should not put pressure on himself to fill the void left at Barcelona by Lionel Messi’s injury, Former Brazil star Juninho says.
Messi was ruled out for two months with a knee injury in September, missing the Champions League win over Bayer Leverkusen and the defeat to Sevilla in La Liga on Saturday.
But the former Lyon midfielder does not think it should be solely down to Neymar to shoulder the responsibilities because of Messi’s absence at Camp Nou.
“Neymar’s thoughts should not be: ‘I am going to replace Messi, I’m going to get the ball, score all the goals and make everything happen,'” Juninho told Globo on Sunday. “It cannot be like this, but he has to take the initiative and know that Messi is not on the field and he maybe has to take the lead.
“With the Argentine absent, he may have to do this.”
Juninho said that Neymar has the leadership and is comfortable with the responsibility thanks to his experience as captain of Brazil, but added that club competition is different.
“Even with the increased pressure it is not something that Neymar is not used to,” he added. “At Santos he was always the centre of attention, and with the Brazilian national team.”
“In Brazil, he knows that he is already the leader of the team by what he does on the pitch and due to the absence of other players of his level,” Juninho said. “Therefore, I think that with Brazil it is easier and our need today causes us to have more patience with him.
“Nothing is easy — neither in the Selecao nor at Barcelona, though. The Brazilian national team is the best known in the world and Barcelona is the best club in the world.
“And when they lose their best player it is also difficult.”
Neymar will miss Brazil’s first two World Cup 2018 qualifying fixtures against Chile and Venezuela on Oct 8 and 13 as he serves the remaining two games of asuspension from this year’s Copa America.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) last week rejected Brazil’s appeal of the four-match sanction imposed after the Brazil captain confronted the referee after Brazil’s 1-0 Copa America defeat to Colombia.