Paris Saint Germain superstar Neymar has revealed that Brazil’s quarter-final exit in Russia at the hands of Belgium hurt him deeply.
The Selecao went into the tournament as hot favourites to lift the trophy for the first time since 2002, but they were ultimately bested by Roberto Martinez’ side 2-1 in the quarter-finals.
The 26-year-old winger was criticised throughout the competition for his theatricality and below-par performances for Tite’s men, which ultimately hindered them from reaching their true potential at the World Cup this time around.
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Neymar has returned to club duty with PSG in scintillating form, having already scored seven goals in their first seven games of the new Ligue 1 season, but according to ESPN, he did struggle to accept his troubles with the national team over the summer.
The Brazilian attacker told reporters on Tuesday: “At the highest level in the game, you must be at your best come February or March. I am looking for my best form and I am trying to get better physically and technically.
“There was also the World Cup, where I suffered a lot and I did everything to play with Brazil. I was very sad about the way that it finished in Russia. However, I can’t keep crying — I have moved on.”
Neymar was speaking ahead of PSG’s Champions League clash with Red Star Belgrade on Wednesday at the Parc Des Princes, which is a must-win game for Thomas Tuchel’s men after a disappointing loss against Liverpool on matchday one.
The club’s talismanic star must continue to produce his best form on the pitch if the French champions are to emerge as realistic contenders for Europe’s top prize this season, but there is a nagging worry that he could revert to the kind of shenanigans he showed in Russia as the season wears on.
Neymar is undoubtedly one of the most talented players in world football, but for him to truly ascend to the next level and be remembered as one of the best players in Brazil’s history, he must stop all the histrionics and focus on improving his all-around game.