RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazil coach Tite admitted that superstar striker Neymar had “made a mistake” when he clashed with a fan in France, but that didn’t deter him from including the world’s most expensive player in his Copa America squad.
Neymar, the world’s most expensive player, was banned for three matches for lashing out at a spectator following PSG’s shock defeat by Rennes in the French Cup final earlier this month.
His ban will not, however, affect his appearance in the Copa America, which Brazil will host from next month.
“He made a mistake, but I want to talk to him face-to-face,” said Tite as he named his squad on Friday.
Brazil also included injured defender Thiago Silva in their squad.
PSG’s Silva, 34, has been suffering from a knee issue since mid-April, but Brazil’s physio Fabio Mahseredjian said the former captain could be in a “good condition” by May 28.
There was no space for Tottenham’s Champions League star Lucas Moura despite his hat trick in last week’s semi-final second leg against Ajax or for Real Madrid youngster Vinicius Junior.
Everton winger Richarlison is included in the 23-man group after an impressive season in the English top-flight.
One of the most notable absentees was that of Liverpool’s Fabinho, despite his key role in his team’s push to the Champions League final and the runners-up spot in the Premier League.
Tite instead opted for Fernandinho, one of Manchester City’s driving forces in their Premier League triumph but who had been widely criticised for his performance in the 2-1 quarter-final loss to Belgium at the 2018 World Cup.
“It was a very difficult choice. Fernandinho knows his responsibilities.
“It’s the most difficult squad I have ever had to put together.”
Eight-time winners Brazil face Bolivia, Venezuela and Peru in the group stage, which starts on June 14, after two friendlies against Qatar and Honduras.
Crazy Squad 🤪🤟🏽 pic.twitter.com/9UB1xrajoD— Neymar Jr (@neymarjr) May 16, 2019
Goalkeepers: Alisson, Ederson, Cassio
Defenders: Dani Alves, Fagner, Alex Sandro, Filipe Luis, Thiago Silva, Marquinhos, Miranda, Eder Militao
Midfielders: Casemiro, Fernandinho, Arthur, Allan
Forwards: Lucas Paqueta, Philippe Coutinho, Neymar, Everton, David Neres, Richarlison, Roberto Firmino, Gabriel Jesus.AFP