Neymar needs to lift the World Cup with Brazil to etch his name as a Selecao great, so says Mauro Silva, who referenced Lionel Messi’s global success with Argentina.
Messi powered Lionel Scaloni’s Argentina to their first World Cup triumph in 36 years after lifting the coveted Jules Rimet trophy at the Qatar World Cup in 2022.
Neymar and his Brazil team-mates were eliminated from that edition of the world’s top international tournament in a quarter-final defeat to Croatia on penalties.
The Selecao forward equalled Pele’s scoring record for Brazil in the Croatia loss, and subsequently broke the landmark with two goals against Bolivia in Friday’s World Cup qualifier.
But former Brazil and Deportivo midfielder Silva believes Neymar must achieve glory in the United States and Canada at the 2028 World Cup to fully write his name into national folklore.
: Vitor Silva / CBF pic.twitter.com/dH7OJthyQw
— CBF Futebol (@CBF_Futebol) September 9, 2023
The 59-cap Brazil international Silva told Stats Perform at the Thinking Football Summit: “Neymar is among the best. I would say among the five or 10 best in Brazil.
“There are very good footballers in there. Pele, there is Ronaldo, Romario, Bebeto – some very important people. But Neymar is undoubtedly among the best too.
“There is the expectation in Brazil that a player with Neymar’s talent is capable of leading Brazil to a World Cup, just as happened with Messi and the Argentina team after so many years.
“Here in Brazil, people hope that a player with Neymar’s talent can lead us to this important achievement.
“He is among the most important players in the history of Brazilian football, without a doubt, because of his numbers, for breaking Pele’s record, for example.
“But he still has a lot to do.
“I hope he can achieve a World Cup for Brazil and this will undoubtedly consolidate him as one of the greats in the history of Brazilian football.”
Since the World Cup Neymar has left Paris Saint-Germain, who he joined from Barcelona, to move to Al Hilal on a lucrative contract in Saudi Arabia.
While the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema have made similar transfers to the Saudi Pro League, Silva hopes Neymar can continue to play at his peak in what he feels is a less competitive competition.
— Neymar Jr (@neymarjr) September 9, 2023
Silva added: “It is a challenge because when you are in the best competitions, competing every day, every week with the best teams and players, the demands make you maintain a very high level of performance.
“Now as being in a competition of a level that is not so high, it is a challenge. But let’s see what happens.
“Nor can it be said that he will not be able to maintain the level, but I am convinced that this will be a great challenge for Neymar.
“We are in 2023 and the World Cup is in 2026, so there are still three years ahead where despite his age, his years, [Neymar] is in a league that is not as competitive as the European leagues.
“So he will have to maintain this high level to lead Brazil to a conquest. Hopefully he will be able to maintain this level until 2026 at least.”