Neymar has finally responded to Pele criticising him for wasting his talent

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Neymar probably hasn’t flourished to the extent he had hoped when he left Barcelona to become the most expensive footballer of all-time in August 2017.

The £200 million signing was nowhere close to winning the Ballon d'Or in 2017 nor last year, which means he’s so far fallen short of his sole objective since stepping out of Lionel Messi’s shadow.

Even with no major individual honours to show for his efforts, he does boast some remarkable numbers.

Neymar has scored 48 goals in all competitions since joining Paris Saint-Germain, never going more than four consecutive appearances without finding the net for club or country.

It goes without saying, the Brazilian has been a vital contributor to the French giants’ ongoing dominance of Ligue 1 and rising stock in Europe.

Despite his importance to the short-term future of the PSG project, Neymar appears at least somewhat open to jumping ship if a better opportunity arises.

“Rumours of me leaving? There have been rumours like that since I've become a pro. But there's nothing concrete. As soon as there is something certain, I'll talk about it and I'll assume it, be sure of that,” he told Canal, per Goal.

“I want to win everything, especially the Champions League, since it's every player's dream.”

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It’s difficult to blame Neymar for wanting immediate success wherever he can find it; his entire career has been characterised by incessant pressure, never more so than at the 2018 World Cup.

The 26-year-old was ridiculed for failing to take Brazil beyond the quarter-finals in Russia, particularly in light of his constant play-acting.

So humiliating were his antics, none other than Pele saw fit to condemn his compatriot.

“It's difficult to defend Neymar for all the things he does besides playing football. I spoke with him and reminded him of his ability,” he said in a recent interview.

“He was unlucky because Brazil did not win the World Cup and he was singled out.

“I've been with him in Europe twice. We talked and I explained: 'The God of football gave you the gift. What you do complicates it’,” he added.

Neymar is no stranger to criticism, but when a fellow Brazilian widely considered to be greatest ever player takes aim, he simply has to defend himself.

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In response, he said: “Pele's criticisms? I've found them interesting.

“As soon as you don't win, criticisms come. I've never been acting during the World Cup, I've just been subject to fouls.

“Today people talk a lot about that because it's Neymar and everything is amplified. I respect Pele's criticisms but I don't approve them.”

While Neymar is undoubtedly determined to achieve greatness on his own terms, it seems he will always struggle to persuade others he deserves to be held in the highest regard.

Do you think Neymar will end his career as one of the best players in history? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.

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