This is because his intentions are clear.
The PSG star made sure of this when he posted a photo on social media with the sixth star image snapped on his shorts around the Brazil crest during the trip to Qatar – a nod to a hopeful sixth World Cup title, which stretches a record for the South American team.
“This is our dream,” said Brazil striker Richarlison. “Neymar posted that picture because it’s his dream too. He wants to win that and we know how much he wants to win that. He can do whatever he wants. It’s his dream. If Neymar is happy here, we’ll be happy. That’s the most important thing.”
This is the general feeling: Brazil Neymar’s fate depends on his form and mental state.
The Seleçao opens on Thursday in front of a Serbia The side that fell short of expectations on football’s biggest stages.
Neymar is entering well after a series of injuries since the 2018 World Cup – when Brazil lost to Belgium in the quarter-finals. His only problem so far has been being a day late to Brazil’s pre-tournament training camp in Turin, Italy, due to a problem with his flight.
“We need to take advantage of Neymar’s situation,” said Brazil captain Thiago Silva.
Brazil coach Tite must have all his players ready for the opening game. The only doubt is whether he will use midfielder Lucas Paqueta or a more attacking team with Vinicius Junior up front alongside Neymar.
Neymar has 75 career goals for Brazil and only needs two more goals to match the record set by Pele. And what better place to achieve that feat than with a global audience at soccer’s biggest event – especially for a player who was bought by Qatar-owned Paris Saint-Germain for a world record transfer fee of €222m ($230m) in 2017.
Meanwhile, Serbia is seeking to qualify from the group stage for the first time in its fourth World Cup appearance as an independent nation. It also failed to qualify for the European Championships in five attempts.
Several Serbian players were in the team that defeated Brazil to lift the U-20 World Cup in 2015; And also beating France in the European Under-19 Championship final two years ago.
But Aleksandar Mitrović, Sergej Milinković-Savic, Nemanja Maksimović and Andrija Živković, who were in those youth teams, failed to reproduce the same success at senior level for Serbia.
Add to that 22-year-old striker Dusan Vlahović, who has scored 50 goals in all competitions for Fiorentina and Juventus over the past two seasons, though, and Serbia may finally have the firepower to fulfill their potential.
Whether or not Serbia has the defensive pedigree to contain Brazil’s wide range of forwards is a different matter.
Brazil beat Serbia 2-0 in the final group match of the 2018 World Cup.
“The players are more mature now,” Serbia coach Dragan Stojkovic said. They’ve played the World Cup before. “
Serbia’s captain Dusan Tadic has suggested that Stojkovic’s appointment last year after another failed European Championship qualifying campaign has also boosted morale.
Serbia is undefeated in the qualifying rounds for this tournament and has also recently won promotion from the second tier of the Nations League.
“Since Stojkovic’s arrival, we are all happy and the atmosphere is great,” said Tadic. “We haven’t had that before.”
Switzerland and Cameroon are also in Group G.
“We have a difficult group – one of the toughest groups – but at the end of the day this is a challenge for all of us to show that we can (play),” Stojkovic said. “Expectations are great.”
But not as tall as Neymar.
AP Sports Tales Azzoni sportswriter Contributed to this report.