Brazilian superstar Neymar had his World Cup cut short by injury this summer, but he may get another chance to represent his nation on home soil sooner than anyone thought.
According to a report from Brazil on Monday, the 22-year-old winger is in the plans of Brazil’s Olympic coach Alexandre Gallo to be an overage player on Brazil’s roster during the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
The only issue is that Neymar is expected to play for Brazil at the 2016 Copa America Centenario tournament being held in the U.S. and his involvement in the Rio Olympics could see him miss the start of FC Barcelona’s season in Spain.
Our friend Nick Zaccardi over at NBC Sports OlympicTalk has all the details on Neymar potentially suiting up at the Olympics in 2016.
Brazil’s Olympic coach, Alexandre Gallo, said he wants the superstar striker to be one of his three over-age players on an otherwise 23-and-under team in Rio de Janeiro, according to O Globo.
Brazil, which has won five World Cups, has never won Olympic gold in soccer. It won silver in 1984, 1988 and 2012 and bronze in 1996 and 2008. Neymar, then 20, was part of the 2012 Olympic Team favored to win gold in London that lost to Mexico in the final.
Some nations take greater advantage of the Olympic rule that allows three over-age players more than others. In 2012, Brazil used its exceptions on three exceptional players — Hulk, Marcelo and Thiago Silva – who started for Brazil in the just-completed World Cup. An issue in 2016 that was not present in 2012, however, is the special Copa America Centenario, the 100th anniversary of the tournament that crowns the champion of South America.
It’s the biggest tournament of the year for Brazil’s senior national team, and its presence also puts U.S. goalie Tim Howard‘s chances of playing in Rio at risk. Copa America Centenario takes place from June 3-26. Soccer at the 2016 Olympics takes place from Aug. 3-19. Neymar plays for Barcelona in La Liga, whose season usually begins in late August.
That would be one busy spring and summer for Neymar, who would be the host nation’s most recognizable Olympian should he suit up in Rio.