Neymar to stay in Brazil, miss weekend game ahead of World Cup qualifiers
Neymar just helped carry the Selecao to their first-ever Olympic gold medal, but he doesn't have to head back to his day job just yet. New Brazil coach Tite included him in the list for World Cup qualifiers against Ecuador and Colombia, so Barcelona manager Luis Enrique has given Neymar permission to stay in Brazil rather than return for the match against Athletic Bilbao over the weekend.
It makes sense. There's no need for Neymar to fly halfway around the world back to Spain, only to hop right back on a plane and head back for the international break. Barcelona will be fine without him for one more game, Neymar gets to celebrate with the home crowd for a little bit longer, and he doesn't have to return to the Nou Camp exhausted from a week of needless travel.
It's a celebration for Brazil right now, but sitting in sixth place in CONMEBOL qualifying with only nine points from six matches, they need to take care of business with a tough trip away to Ecuador and at home against a very strong Colombia side. Neymar might not be their captain anymore, but he's definitely their most important player and they'll need him fit and firing for these two qualifiers. Letting him stay in Brazil seems to be the best option for all parties.
Brazil's full call-up list:
Goalkeepers: Alisson (Roma), Marcelo Grohe (Gremio), Weverton (Atletico Paranaense)
Defenders: Gil (Shandong Luneng), Marquinhos (PSG), Miranda (Inter) Rodrigo Caio (Sao Paulo), Dani Alves (Juventus), Fagner (Corinthians), Filipe Luis (Atletico Madrid), Marcelo (Real Madrid)
Midfielders: Casemiro (Real Madrid), Giuliano (Zenit), Lucas Lima (Santos), Paulinho (Guangzhou Evergrande), Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool), Rafael Carioca (Atletico Mineiro), Renato Augusto (Beijing Guoan), Willian (Chelsea)
Forwards: Gabriel Barbosa (Santos), Gabriel Jesus (Palmeiras), Neymar (Barcelona), Taison (Shakhtar Donetsk).
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