Brazil news

Pele: Brazil must protect Neymar

May 18, 2012
By ESPN staff

Brazilian football great and Santos legend Pele has once more come out to have his say on the future of the club's latest starlet, Neymar.

Neymar and Pele enjoy a good relationship at Santos
GettyImagesNeymar is the first player since Pele to receive Brazilian football's most prestigious award

• Pele: Messi not as good as Neymar
• Maradona blasts Pele claim
• Santos want Neymar stay

Neymar, 20, has shot to the top of the world game, despite not yet having left his homeland for European shores.

Pele, though, believes that Brazil need to be careful with their young stars, with both Neymar and Lucas Moura already carrying the hopes of a nation into the 2014 World Cup.

"We have had a lot of similarly great players, but they could never show their best in the Selecao shirt. Neymar is the man of the hour, he is playing brilliantly and he is now more mature, but we still need to take care," Pele told the Portal da Copa website.

"We have Lucas, who has massive potential in the middle of the field. But the World Cup is not so easy. There are a lot of players around who are not up to the grade, and we have to take care of our stars."

In a word of advice to the Brazilian federation, the three-time World Cup winner also advocated that players are selected on performance, not on hype - something which has been a common criticism in recent years.

"We still have two years. The key is to form the Selecao around players who deserve to be there. Not a Selecao of players protected by agents, protected by journalists who talk them up. We have the men, we just need to create a team."