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Neymar

‘Neymar can play the next World Cup’ – Ronaldo backs Brazil talisman to play on after 2022 disappointment

12:43 PM WAT 13/12/2022
Neymar
Brazil legend Ronaldo believes Neymar “can play the next World Cup” after enduring more international heartache at Qatar 2022.
  • Selecao suffered shock defeat to Croatia
  • Missed out on sixth global crown
  • PSG star mulling over international options

WHAT HAPPENED? The Selecao entered that tournament as favourites to claim a sixth global crown, but their quest for more major honours came to a close at the quarter-final stage when suffering a penalty shootout defeat to Croatia. There have been suggestions that Neymar, who is now 30 years of age, may have graced such a stage for the last time, but iconic countryman Ronaldo believes the Paris Saint-Germain forward will add to his haul of 124 caps and pull clear of Pele as his nation’s all-time leading goalscorer.

WHAT THEY SAID: Ronaldo has told AP: “I think Neymar is very upset with the result of the World Cup for the Brazil national team. It's normal that he's feeling that way for now, but I'm also sure that he will come back stronger and continue playing with the national team. He's still young... I think he can play the next World Cup.”

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Neymar, who has never won a senior international title with Brazil, is level with Pele on 77 goals at the top of a notable scoring chart and Ronaldo sees enough determination in the talented playmaker to suggest that he will want to go on to 2026. The two-time World Cup winner added: “I'm very happy that he showed the world a commitment for the last six months, for the Brazil national team. He behaved himself. He took care of himself. And he played a good match, the first match. He got a very strong tackle on his ankle. He made a huge sacrifice to play again for the national team. He played very good in the last match. I think he's very important for us. So I hope that [he] gets well soon and back strong in the football world with PSG and the Brazil national team.”

IN THREE PHOTOS:

WHAT NEXT? Neymar has avoided rushing into a decision on his international future, as he waits for the disappointment of another failed bid for honours to pass, with the door being left open for him to play on for Brazil and continue shouldering the burden of expectation with his country.