Pele urges Neymar caution

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With Brazil the most decorated country in the history of the World Cup, they can boast to have produced more legends of the game than any other nation.

Selecao have an enviable ability to produce a Golden Generation more frequently than any other nation and, it would appear, they could be on the cusp of something special once again.

The next World Cup could see this great footballing nation reach their pinnacle which, after five previous victories in the greatest tournament of them all, will take some doing.

Yet the 2014 competition will be hosted in Brazil, and provides them with an opportunity to reestablish themselves among the elite of today's sides. And what could be sweeter than a win in front of their own fans?

There has been a European dominance since Brazil's last triumph in 2002, with first Italy then Spain being crowned the world champions, while the latter have been heralded as arguable the finest national side of all time.

Brazilians will have something to say about that, and will fairly highlight the Pele inspired 1970 side that laid waste to all opposition, but they may also be encouraged to look forward rather than back.

Although the current Selecao side may not be littered with as many established stars as 42 years ago, they have the makings of a side capable of reaching the summit of football.

Built around Santos sensation Neymar, Mano Menezes's side for the World Cup on home soil will be brimming with youthful exuberance and, in their star man, they have potentially the best player in the world among their number.

Pele has already billed Neymar as superior to Barcelona star Lionel Messi and, although the former is influenced by national bias, his current claims may one day have some truth.

Last week, Neymar scored five and set up a further two goals for Santos in an 8-0 thrashing of Bolivar in the Copa Libertadores, in a display demonstrating his true genius.

Aged only 20 and already with a century of goals to his name, Neymar certainly has a solid foundation from which to propel himself into the stratosphere.

A move to Europe will surely beckon for Neymar at some point in the not too distant future, while his compatriot Lucas Moura is also attracting admirer glances away from Brazil.

The 19-year-old attacking midfielder from Sao Paulo is hot property indeed and his influence alongside Neymar in 2014 will be pivotal in deciding the destination of the World Cuo.

Yet, although the young pair are destined to move to Europe at some point, a move away from Brazil prior to 2014 may damage their prospects of leading their country to glory.

Such are the rigours of the European game compared to that in Brazil, Neymar and Lucas could face burnout prior to the World Cup on home soil in two years.

This is an eventuality Pele is desperate to see avoided, and believes the pair must be wrapped in cotton wool in order to protect Brazil's chances of winning a sixth 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 Portal da Copa.

"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."

He added: "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."

Neymar and Lucas, to their credit, have both insisted they are happy to remain loyal to their current clubs, and doing so can only benefit their country when the World Cup comes to town.

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