Former Chelsea defender Juliano Belletti has claimed that Neymar is more comfortable playing for Brazil than for Barcelona, ahead of the team’s World Cup opener against Croatia on Thursday.
Brazil go into the tournament as overall favourites and Belletti believes that his fellow countryman has all the qualities to lead Luiz Felipe Scolari’s side to success on home soil.
‘I think he has more confidence from Scolari to move around a lot on the pitch - not just stick on the left-hand side like at Barcelona,’ the retired full-back said.
‘At Barcelona they give their players specific roles on the pitch. In Brazil it’s different: you have the liberty to move into other positions and he has a lot of quality which the team need to help him use.’
At only 22 years of age, Neymar is set to play in his first World Cup campaign, but he already has 49 caps and an impressive 31 goals to his name, having made his international debut back in 2010.
One of the most highly-rated players in world football, the star forward joined Barcelona last summer from his local club Santos for a fee which has been surrounded in recent controversy.
Neymar experienced an up-and-down first season at the Nou Camp, playing second fiddle to Lionel Messi out on the left wing, although he still managed to score a respectable 15 times across all competitions.
The Brazilian national team’s undisputed talisman, Neymar is set to be heavily relied upon this summer, with the hopes of an expectant host nation resting largely on his slender shoulders.
Touted for 'Player of the Tournament' and Golden Boot honours, there are many who would see anything less than victory at the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro on July 13 as a failure.