Brazil coach Tite has included Neymar in his 23-man squad for the Copa America his country will host but has yet to decide if the Paris-Saint Germain forward will retain the captaincy — while Real Madrid’s teenage forward Vinicius Junior did not make the cut.
Neymar came under fire following an altercation with a spectator after his team’s Coupe de France final defeat to Rennes on April 27. The 27-year-old was banned for three games by the French Football Federation and there were calls by former Brazil players to strip him of the national team captaincy.
“Neymar made a mistake,” Tite said in Friday’s news conference. “I want to talk to Neymar face-to-face and discuss it before I speak about it.
“I will speak to him just as I did with Douglas Costa, with regards to conduct. Then I will answer all the questions.”
In September 2018, one of the reasons Tite left Juventus winger Costa out of his squad was because the player had been banned for four games for spitting at Sassuolo’s Federico Di Francesco, an “act which showed a lack of discipline.”
Neymar has scored three goals and set up two more in four starts for PSG since coming back from a broken metatarsal sustained on Jan. 23. Vinicius, 18, has scored four goals in 30 games for Real Madrid since joining from Flamengo in a €45 million transfer.
An ankle ligament injury sustained on March 6 prevented him from making his Brazil senior debut that month. Vinicius has only played 30 minutes since for Madrid and has not made the squad.
Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino, Manchester City’s Gabriel Jesus and Everton‘s Richarlison have been included. Tite also selected experienced PSG fullback Dani Alves but not Real Madrid veteran Marcelo. Alves hurt his knee and was unable to return to the Brazil squad in March after a one-year absence.
The 36-year-old missed the 2018 World Cup through injury but has played 108 games for Brazil in 12 years with the national team. Marcelo was omitted from Brazil’s last squad after losing his regular spot under former Real Madrid boss Santiago Solari. But, despite regaining his starting place under replacement Zinedine Zidane, he has not made the cut.
La Canarinha has not won the Copa since 2007 but have tasted success on all four occasions they have been hosts. The last was in 1989 when they went unbeaten en route to lifting the coup.
“Happiness and responsibility — that is what we feel,” Tite said. “We want to do our best possible and although that does not assure us results, it does give us dignity.
“It has been the most difficult team I’ve had to do.”
Liverpool’s Alisson and Manchester City’s Ederson are selected as goalkeepers. Alisson won the Golden Glove award as the goalkeeper who kept the most clean sheets (21) in the Premier League finishing ahead of Ederson (20).
Brazil will play two warm-up games in home soil against Qatar and Honduras before they start the tournament against Bolivia on June 14. Tite’s side also faces Peru and Venezuela in Group A.
Brazil Copa America squad:
Alisson (Liverpool), Ederson (Man City), Cassio (Corinthians); Dani Alves (PSG), Fagner (Corinthians), Alex Sandro (Juventus), Filipe Luis (Atletico Madrid), Thiago Silva (PSG), Marquinhos (PSG), Miranda (Inter), Eder Militao (FC Porto); Casemiro (Real Madrid), Fernandinho (Man City), Arthur (Barcelona), Allan (Napoli), Paqueta (Milan), Philippe Coutinho (Barcelona), Neymar (PSG), Everton (Gremio); David Neres (Ajax), Richarlison (Everton), Roberto Firmino (Liverpool), Gabriel Jesus (Man City)