Tite upset not to have Neymar for Copa America: He's top three in the world

By Sports Desk June 09, 2019

Tite is upset Neymar will sit out the Copa America through injury as the Brazil head coach described him as the third-best player in the world behind Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Hosts Brazil will be without Neymar for the upcoming Copa America, which starts on June 14, after the star forward suffered an ankle injury in Wednesday's 2-0 friendly win over Qatar.

Neymar is facing four weeks on the sidelines after being reassessed by Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain on Saturday, with Brazil drafting in Willian as a replacement.

It is a blow for Tite and Brazil, who are seeking their ninth Copa title and first since 2007 following the Selecao's group-stage exit in 2016.

Asked about Neymar prior to Sunday's final warm-up match against Honduras, Tite told reporters: "My feelings [in relation to Neymar] is of concern for the human side and for him to be in good health.

"And second, I have concern and regret not having a player of his quality, he is a top-three player in the world. For me, apart from Messi and Ronaldo, he compares to [Eden] Hazard, but he has an advantage over Hazard, they think the same way, but he [Neymar] runs the plays faster.

"He is the player that we ask for. I'm talking about the athlete, not all the other circumstances behind it. I told him that. And that's my opinion."

Neymar's absence comes amid a rape allegation against the PSG forward following an incident in the French capital on May 15.

Neymar vehemently denies the accusation and posted an Instagram video on June 2, in which he claimed the allegations are an attempt to "extort" him.

The 27-year-old revealed private messages he said were exchanged between himself and the woman, which included intimate photos. 

The Computer Crime Investigation Office (DRCI) in Rio de Janeiro opened an investigation following the release of the pictures and Neymar was summoned to answer questions on Thursday.

"It is clear the situations that happen out of the field affects us, with all the people involved in the Selecao," Tite said. "But you asked about the news... Inside our team we give much more attention to our work, to train well, and prepare for the next games. 

"Of course other things happen - I know you're talking about Neymar, but this is related to everyone. The players we select, the line-up, the set pieces, the ball possession, our aggressiveness and verticalization. There are other important things to worry about. Because our responsibility is to play well, be consistent and have good results. Creativity, consistency and results... No matter what the news is or is going to be."

Brazil will open the tournament against Bolivia in Sao Paulo on Friday before facing Venezuela (June 18) and Peru (June 22) in Group A.

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