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Ronaldo tips Neymar to lead Brazil to 2026 World Cup despite doubts

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By Martin Graham | 14th Dec 2022

Ronaldo De Lima believes Neymar could still be at the World Cup in 2026. There are doubts that Neymar will still be in top condition when the World Cup comes around in 2026.

Brazil arrived at the World Cup in Qatar heavily favoured to win the Mundial for the sixth time. The Selecao stormed to early qualification to the next round and was on course to prove pundits right. Heavily loaded with star players, it seemed inevitable that Neymar would finally land his hands on the only trophy to have eluded him.

The loss to Cameroon seemed to be a minor hiccup on the way as they engaged in full gear against South Korea.

Brazil has always been a country with high expectations, blessed with an abundant talent that leaves them as favourites in most competitions. Qatar 2022 was no different, and with the attacking talent of Neymar, Vinicius Junior, Raphinha and Richarlison, they were expected to rule the world.

The loss in the quarter-final to Croatia was a blow in the mid-riff and a shocker to the world. Many believe, like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, this is the last World Cup for Neymar. One of the greatest strikers of all time – Ronaldo De Lima, disagrees and believes Neymar still has a role to play in the team in the future.

A place in the Brazil national team for Neymar

Few players in football history compare to Ronaldo De Lima. The former Barcelona and Real Madrid striker is a legend of the game. He scored 62 goals in 98 caps and won two World Cups in 1994 and 2002. Ronaldo has thrown his weight behind Neymar, saying the career of the Paris Saint-Germain star with Brazil is not over.

Ronaldo insists that despite the disappointing exit of Brazil from the Qatar 2022 World Cup, Neymar still has a role to play for his country. Ronaldo said that Neymar would be back, stronger in four years.

Ronaldo said Neymar would naturally be down and unsure of his international future but tips him to return stronger and continue with the national team.

It was a jarring defeat at the hands of Croatia. Neymar scored the opening goal in extra time, but Brazil failed to hold on to their lead as Croatia secured a dramatic equaliser through Bruno Petkovic with about five minutes left to play.

Neymar was fifth in line to take a penalty for Brazil, but the misses from Rodrygo and PSG defender Marquinhos meant he didn’t get his chance as Croatia converted all four of their spot-kicks.

Ronaldo backs Neymar to continue with Brazil

After the loss to Croatia, Neymar confessed that he did not know if he would continue playing international football. He needed one more goal to surpass Pele as Brazil’s all-time top goalscorer. The PSG forward is mulling over bringing his international career to an end. Neymar has had an illustrious career with the Selecao, and it would be sad to see it end like this.

Ronaldo still sees a future in the Brazil national team for Neymar. The legendary Brazil striker said Neymar is understandably upset with the outcome of the World Cup, but it is not enough to rule himself out of international football.

Neymar will be 34 by the next World Cup, but he can take inspiration from the performances of veterans like Cristiano Ronaldo (37), Luka Modric (37) and Olivier Giroud (36) in Qatar.

Martin Graham is an MFF sports writer

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