Neymar is the youngest cog in Barcelona’s “MSN” trio with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, and manager Luis Enrique has a great interest in keeping him safe.
Messi is skipping the Olympics for the Copa America Centenario this summer, and Suarez doesn’t have the Olympic option.
But Neymar hasn’t committed to either, and the Olympics on home soil make his choice even more intriguing. He’s Brazil’s captain, and both tournaments matter quite a bit to the nation.
Here are Enrique’s thoughts. Read into them what you will.
“It’s a special situation for any athlete: the Olympic Games in your [home] country,” Enrique, who won home gold for Spain at Barcelona 1992, said, according to a translation. “We will discuss it, because it’s complicated. There are competitions here and that carry weight. Neymar also has the Copa America [Centenario], and we need to observe the physical aspect. … We are looking for a lighter load that benefits the player himself.”
Men’s soccer clubs are under no obligation to allow their players to compete in Rio in August, FIFA announced in September.
Sounds like one or the other. You move, “Ney”.
The Olympic men’s soccer tournament begins Aug. 4, and group games are played every three days. Subsequent games are played the 13th, 17th and 20th.
The Copa America begins in early June, with matches every four days in the group stage, followed by five-day gaps.
Playing in both isn’t necessarily a problem, rather the bigger issue for Enrique is that the Olympics’ gold medal game bumps up with the eve of La Liga’s season.