Brazil legend Pele says there is currently too much pressure on Neymar to succeed at the 2014 World Cup.
Going into the tournament as host nation and favourites, Brazil have underwhelmed in their opening two group games, despite picking up four points, and three-time winner Pele believes there are some similarities to when he was first starring for the national side.
‘It’s a little bit different, but almost the same because he’s the big star of the current Brazilian team, but in 1958 I was 17 years old, while Neymar is now 22 and playing in Europe,’ he said.
‘I think there is too much pressure on him because everybody expects Neymar to win the World Cup for Brazil, but you win the World Cup as a team, not as a player. He’s a good player but it’s too big of a responsibility to expect him to win the World Cup [on his own].’
Playing in his first World Cup campaign, Neymar already has 33 goals in 51 international games for Brazil since making his debut in 2010, scoring twice in their 3-1 opening win over Croatia last week.
One of the most highly-rated stars in world football, the striker has experienced an up-and-down debut season with Barcelona, after joining last summer from local club Santos, having been confined mostly to the left wing while playing second fiddle to club darling Lionel Messi.
Nevertheless, he still managed to score a respectable 15 goals over the course of the 2013-14 campaign and, as Brazil’s undisputed talisman, had many touting him for both Player of the Tournament and Golden Boot honours this summer.
With the weight of the nation on his shoulders, anything less than victory at the Maracana on July 13 for the Neymar-led side would likely be looked upon as a failure by the fans, and Pele on this occasion may just be right in his assertion that the burden is too much to bear.