• International football

Neymar doesn't see England as World Cup threat

ESPN staff
February 6, 2013 « Beckham's generosity questioned in France | Chartbeat test »

Brazilian superstar Neymar has dismissed England's hopes of winning a World Cup in the coming years, claiming the current Three Lions squad is simply not good enough to challenge on football's biggest stage.

Neymar, 21, told the Daily Mail that he does not see England as a threat to Brazil's 2014 World Cup ambitions, insisting the gap between them and the likes of Spain and Argentina is far too wide.

Although England are 12 places higher than Brazil on the FIFA world rankings, Neymar believes Roy Hodgson's side is far too reliant on striker Wayne Rooney and does not have the necessary depth to challenge for European Championship and World Cup glory.

"England are a good team with very good players, but I don't look at them as one of our main rivals for the World Cup," Neymar told the Daily Mail. "They have the players to do well, but do I think they have the same quality as Spain and Argentina? No.

"I think maybe they rely on Wayne Rooney.

"At Brazil we have many players who can win the game. The same with Argentina, if [Leo] Messi is not having a great game they still have [Sergio] Aguero and [Carlos] Tevez. With Spain, if [Andres] Iniesta is having a bad game they have Xavi and [David] Villa.

"Once you look past Rooney you don't see an obvious player who can win them a game."

Neymar believes Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari made a bold but correct decision in recalling midfielder Ronaldinho to the national team, backing the former Chelsea manager to succeed in the short term.

"The players love having Scolari as coach," Neymar said. "We all respect him - but it works two ways. He is the sort of man that if you show him respect he will show you respect.

"We are all so happy to be playing under him. Already he is coming up with new ideas about how we can improve. He is very clear that only winning the World Cup will do next year.

"I think he made exactly the right decision to bring Ronaldinho back. He is not just one of the best players of recent years but one of the best players to ever play the game. For three years he was the best player in the world. He has won everything with Brazil and also during his time at Barcelona - he brings a lot to the team."

The Santos striker's praise of national team-mate Ronaldinho was replicated by the Brazilian legend, who tipped Neymar to become one of the world's best in the future.

"It is nice when I hear top players say I will be the best player in the world," Neymar said. "It is important to stay humble - but I have to believe that I can be the best in the world. I know I have the talent to be, I just need to carry on working hard and learning off the players and coaches around me.

"Things are written about my future but they are not true. They can't be true - because no decision has been made. I am happy at Santos now and I am not even thinking about leaving.

"When the time comes I will consider all offers from big clubs in Europe, but any talk that I have already committed to a club is not true."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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