Olympics over Copa for Neymar

SAO PAULO • Brazil coach Dunga said on Tuesday that he would pick Neymar for the Olympics rather than the Copa America Centenario if the striker is cleared to play in only one tournament in the middle of the year.

Neymar's summer schedule has been the subject of much debate, with the Barcelona superstar initially vowing to play both tournaments - the 16-team Copa America in the United States in June followed by the Olympics in August.

But the chances of Barcelona signing off on such a gruelling schedule for their prized striker seem remote.

With the Copa America part of the Fifa calendar, Barcelona are obliged to release Neymar.

However, the Spanish giants have no obligation to release him for the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, where five-time world champions Brazil will once again try to win the only major title that has eluded them.

It is possible Barcelona could give Neymar the green light to play in the the Olympics on the condition he does not play the Copa America.

Dunga, who is currently in Europe negotiating the release of players for Brazil's busy summer, said if forced to choose, he would make the Olympics the priority for Neymar.

"It's hard (to choose), but I think, given the importance of trying to win the only medal that Brazil do not have, the fact that we are playing at home," he told Esporte television channel from Madrid.

"We need to talk - Barcelona, the team, Neymar, to see what is best for all three."

Neymar would be one of the three over-23 players allowed in the Brazil squad.

Brazil are targeting the Olympics to help exorcise the bitter memory of their 2014 World Cup campaign on home soil, which ended with a humiliating 7-1 thrashing by Germany in the semi-finals.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 10, 2016, with the headline 'Olympics over Copa for Neymar'. Subscribe