Neymar’s move to Paris Saint-Germain will not change the striker’s chances of winning a Ballon d’Or, Brazil coach Tite said while unveiling his squad on Thursday.
Reports in the lead up to Neymar’s record deal suggested he was looking to move in part to get out of the shadow of Lionel Messi, though the player had nothing but kind words about his former teammate.
Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have won the past nine Ballon d’Or awards as the world’s top player, and Tite, who previously praised the PSG move, suggested Neymar would claim the award in the future no matter where he plays.
“There are three players fighting for that position: Cristiano, Messi and Neymar,” Tite said.
“Cristiano and Messi are from a different generation, and Neymar will get there. That will depend on his performances, not on whether he plays with Messi.”
Tite named a much-changed Brazil squad for Neymar to lead in the two upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Ecuador and Colombia.
Five players were dropped from the group that in March secured the team’s spot in Russia 2018.
Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson is one of the new names to be tested, while new Juventus winger Douglas Costa was one of the players dropped.
Brazil lead the CONMEBOL table with 33 points after 14 games. They will play sixth-placed Ecuador on Aug. 31 in Porto Alegre and second-placed Colombia away on Sept. 5.
The full squad:
Goalkeepers: Alisson (Roma), Cassio (Corinthians), Ederson (Manchester City)
Defenders: Rodrigo Caio (Sao Paulo), Miranda (Inter Milan), Marquinhos, Thiago Silva, Daniel Alves (all Paris Saint-Germain), Fagner (Corinthians), Filipe Luis (Atletico Madrid), Marcelo (Real Madrid)
Midfielders: Casemiro (Real Madrid), Fernandinho (Manchester City), Paulinho (Guangzhou Evergrande), Renato Augusto (Beijing Guoan), Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool), Willian (Chelsea), Luan (Gremio) and Giuliano (Zenit)
Forwards: Taison (Shakhtar), Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City), Neymar (PSG) and Roberto Firmino (Liverpool)