Brazil legend Pele has criticised the showings of youngster Neymar from his old club Santos when playing for the national team, expressing fears the team will not do well at next year’s World Cup on home soil.
"I am very worried by the Brazilian side. We had three years with (coach) Mano Menezes and did not obtain any benefit from those three years," said Pele, 72, in an interview with Estado de Sao Paulo daily published on Wednesday.
Pele reserved some of his toughest criticism for Neymar, touted as the Selecao’s big star of the future if he can live up to the hype.
"Neymar, every time he plays for the Selecao, he becomes an ordinary player," complained “O Rei” (the king), who recently returned from a hip operation and who has spent recent weeks tucked away at his house in Guaruja, a coastal town near Sao Paulo, where he has been composing songs – including one for the World Cup.
"In all the games abroad he played badly. They all think he can solve the Selecao’s problems but Neymar is not ready to shoulder this pressure. He does not play abroad. European football is different from the Latin American game.
We from Santos say he is the best in the world but he is more concerned with media appearances than playing for the team. He is preoccupied with changing his style, his haircut," Pele complained of his young compatriot.
Watching recent Brazil games on television, Pele further observed that in his view the team "has no structure, no harmony."
Luiz Felipe Scolari, who led Brazil to the 2002 World Cup, returned in early December after Menezes’ sacking to work alongside another former coach in Carlos Alberto Parreira and has, in Pele’s view, "already radically changed the team".
"But the experience has to be undertaken with new players. We already know how the experienced ones, such as the recalled Ronaldinho play."