‘Neymar mustn’t try to replace Messi’

Former Brazil star Juninho Pernambucano has advised Neymar to steer clear of trying to replace Lionel Messi for Barcelona and instead “take more initiative”.

Neymar has come under scrutiny for his performances in Messi’s absence, with several media quarters claiming he is too preoccupied with trying to be the Catalans’ main man, but the ex-Lyon midfielder believes his countryman must focus on his own game.

“His concern shouldn’t be ‘will I replace Messi, score all the goals and be responsible for every move?’ He can’t be obsessed,” Juninho told Marca.

“It’s much harder to be the main man for Barcelona than Brazil, and perhaps the pressure on him is now greater due to Messi’s injury, but he’s used to it.

“He carried Santos and is also the centre of attention in the Brazil team. We must be patient with him.

“It’s not easy playing for Brazil or Barca, who are the best team in the world, and it’s even harder when the best player in the world isn’t on the pitch.

“Instead, he should take more initiative. He must be attentive and more focused than usual, knowing that Messi isn’t playing, and perhaps be closer to his teammates.”

Tags Brazil Lionel Messi Neymar