After a footballing magazine invited controversy by naming the PSG star as the greatest Selecao player since Pele, the Portuguese coach weighed in
Neymar will have to reach the pinnacle of success with Brazil before he can compare to Pele and other Selecao legends, according to Jose Mourinho.
The star forward has already staked a claim to being one of the best players in the world, having dominated Ligue 1 with Paris Saint-Germain when healthy and achieving statistical and team success while a member of Barcelona.
Prior to that Neymar was a standout while playing for Santos in his native Brazil – something he shares with Pele.
However, the forward’s exploits on the international stage have not matched his domestic success.
Though he has taken home Olympic Gold medal and triumphed in the Confederations Cup, success in the Copa America and World Cup have eluded him.
Neymar’s Brazil side famously stumbled to a humiliating 7-1 defeat to Germany in the semi-final of the 2014 World Cup, despite being the host nation.
And while Neymar was absent for that defeat with a back injury, he was present in 2018 as Belgium knocked out Brazil from the World Cup in Russia by a 2-1 scoreline, in a tournament where the star man’s theatrics when fouled grabbed more headlines than his goalscoring.
However, Placar, a Brazilian football magazine, recently named Neymar as the country’s greatest player since Pele, drawing criticism as it ignored other Selecao greats like Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Zico and Ronaldinho.
Asked by DAZN about the controversy, Mourinho admitted Neymar is one of the world’s best talents with an impressive track record in the club game, but that his international exploits hold him back when compared to other Brazil greats.
“Neymar is a fantastic talent and nobody can doubt that,” Mourinho said.“He came to Europe and won immediately.
“But I think they forgot players that were the best of the world at some point, such as Ronaldo and Rivaldo, just citing two, and I could remember more. They also came to Europe and were fantastic, but beyond that, they passed through this special situation in a country’s life that is succeeding on the international level.
“Neymar will keep fighting to be on Europe’s elite, where he already is, and this [winning with Brazil] will continue to be a dream for him”
The Brazil star will get another chance this summer to win at a major tournament when Brazil hosts the 2019 Copa America.
In the meantime, Neymar will hope to recover from a broken foot in time to help PSG finally break through in the Champions League.