Neymar 'not a leader' and must make football top priority: Rafael

Former Manchester United full-back Rafael da Silva said that Brazil needs Neymar to be fully focused for Brazil to do well at the international level.

Neymar missed the 2018 Copa America which Brazil won due to an ankle injury.   -  Getty Images

Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar is "not a leader" and must make football his top priority as Brazil eyes success, according to former Manchester United full-back Rafael da Silva.

Neymar – the world's most expensive player following his €222million move to PSG in 2017 – continues to make headlines amid speculation over a possible return to LaLiga champion Barcelona.

The Brazil forward's antics on and off the pitch, highlighted by his mocking of Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland during last month's Champions League last-16 triumph, have also made headlines.

Rafael – now playing for Ligue 1 rival Lyon – teamed up with Neymar during the 2012 Olympic Games and believes the 28-year-old can lead Brazil to glory, if he listens.

Brazil was one of the favourites to win the 2018 World Cup but crashed out in the quarterfinals before claiming last year's Copa America in the absence of Neymar due to an ankle injury.

"We need Neymar, that's for sure," Rafael told ESPN. "We need him a lot. He needs to improve a lot of things outside the pitch. It's important for a footballer.

"He needs to improve a lot outside the pitch to come inside the pitch and do his best. I hope he can do that and if he does we have a big chance to win.

READ: How Liverpool conquered the FIFA Club World Cup

"Neymar is not a leader. I don't think he's a leader. It's not him. He can do the things he does because if he is good, if he's focused and concentrated, he is the best player in the world."

Rafael added: "Football has to the first option of your life. He has so many things around him. He thinks in his mind 'I don't need to do that' to play well but you need to.

"There are a lot of things you need to do. If he does that and someone can put this in his mind -- I know him and I've played with him -- I know he's hard guy to listen to orders. It's not good with him.

"I say the truth but sometimes people don't want to listen to the truth. They want you to say 'you are good, you are magic' they want you to say all the good stuff but life is not like that.

"I think he needs to listen more and if he does that it will be hard to stop Brazil."

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