Barcelona are keen for Neymar to enjoy a deserved break before the 2016-17 campaign and subsequently want their world-class forward to only play in one of Brazil’s major tournaments this summer.
The Seleção compete in the special centenary edition of the Copa America in June, which takes place in the United States, as well as the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro two months later.
Brazil have never won an Olympic gold medal for football and righting that wrong has now become an obsession for the country’s football-loving public, who will be praying their national team can triumph at the Maracana on August 20.
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It’s currently unclear which of the tournaments Neymar will play in - given Brazil’s determination to win Olympic gold, he could end up missing the Copa America - but former striker Ronaldo believes it’s “cowardly” that the 24-year-old finds himself in such a tricky position.
"This situation is very difficult for the player," the World Cup winner was quoted as saying by Goal. "I think it's cowardly that he has to choose what competition he wants to play in.
"What we see is few care about the calendar, and we see more games and more competitions, and the players have less vacation time."
Ronaldo: I would choose the Olympics
So, what would Ronaldo do if he was in Neymar’s shoes?
The former Barcelona and Real Madrid striker insists he would choose the Olympics over the Copa America, which is being held for the second time in two summers.
"I would opt to play in the Olympics," the 39-year-old added. "It would be something unheard of if they could get a gold medal at the Games in Rio.
"I don't know what the situation is like, but ideally, how wonderful it would be for Neymar to tell that story."
Brazil went close to gold in 2012
Neymar scored three goals at the 2012 Olympics in London put was powerless to prevent his side slumping to an agonising 2-1 defeat to Mexico in the final at Wembley Stadium.
The Seleção crumbled in front of the 86,000-strong crowd, conceding inside the opening 30 seconds of the match.
They conceded another goal on 75 minutes, meaning Hulk’s injury-time goal proved to be nothing more than a consolation.
Following their humiliating 7-1 defeat to Germany in the World Cup semi-finals two years ago, Brazil are determined to make amends by winning Olympic gold in front of their home supporters this summer.
One thing’s for sure: without Neymar, their chances of triumphing will be significantly more difficult.
Should Neymar be allowed to play at the Copa America and the Olympics? Let us know your thoughts by leaving a comment below.
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