Neymar absence for Brazil at Copa due to Luis Enrique's 'strong arguments'
Brazil captain Neymar wanted to play both the Olympic Games and the Copa America this summer, but the Brazilian football federation (CBF) accepted he could not do both after hearing "strong arguments" from Barcelona coach Luis Enrique, according to CBF national teams' coordinator Gilmar Rinaldi.
As Brazil's skipper and star player, there had been hopes that Neymar could feature at both the Copa America Centenario in the USA through the month of June and then also in the Olympic football tournament in Rio de Janeiro which is being played between Aug. 3-20.
The CBF had initially said it would "do everything possible" to have the hugely popular player with the national team in both the USA and Rio, however Barcelona had felt it would be difficult given the 24 year old also needed to fit in some rest this summer and prepare with his clubmates for the start of the 2016-17 La Liga campaign.
It was eventually decided that Neymar would sit out the Copa America but play the Olympics, and former Brazil goalkeeper Gilmar told Radio Barcelona show Que t'hi jugues that the arguments put forward by Luis Enrique during a meeting in mid-April had won the day.
"Neymar wanted to play for us, but when things were put clearly to him he understood that we had to make a joint decision," Rinaldi said.
"We decided the best between Barcelona, CBF and the player. You must do the best for the players. We really wanted to have him with us, but the arguments which Luis Enrique gave us were very strong and we understood.
"[Neymar] is a crack, a very intelligent person. He always wants to play, but [some rest] was good for him, and for his club Barcelona. We must respect that."
Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan