Brazil seek Barcelona clearance for Neymar to attend Olympics - Dunga
Brazil national team coach Dunga confirmed that he will be speaking with Barcelona coach Luis Enrique to find a solution that will permit striker Neymar to participate in this summer's Copa America in the United States as well as the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Neymar, part of the Barca team on course for a second successive Treble this season, has said he wants to be one of Brazil's three permitted over-age players at the Olympic Games from Aug. 4-20 in his home country.
The 24-year-old was on the team that lost in the final of the 2012 London Games to Mexico, failing to end Brazil's wait for their only missing major football trophy.
"We will be speaking with the directors of Barcelona as well as their coach Luis Enrique and the player, who is the key piece, and will try to find a solution that works for everyone," Dunga told SporTV. "There are players we plan to call up for both the Copa America Centenario as well as the Olympics."
Dunga admitted that the timing will be tough "so it will be necessary to be in contact with the clubs to request the release of our players. Some players will be in both competitions. We have a lot of work ahead of us."
Brazil will play in the group stage of the Copa America against Ecuador, Haiti and Peru. The Copa America will be played across the United States from June 3-20.
Selecao coach Dunga said he was less worried about Copa America participation from his European players and much more concerned with the Olympics, which begins less than seven weeks after the tournament in the United States ends.
This Copa America Centenario, a special event, will be sandwiched between two Conmebol qualifying fixtures (one this March and the next one in September). At last year's Copa America, the World Cup qualifiers had not yet begun.
"Unlike the last Copa America, this one is stuck between the [World Cup] qualifiers. And then right after, we have the Olympics. It is a weighty schedule.
"Copa America comes at the end of the [Champions League], so that will not be a problem. But afterward we are going to have a little bit more difficulty in putting the team together for the Olympics because the players are going to be coming from vacation and they will only have a week of training to determine which ones will be chosen for the Selecao," Dunga said. "We will try to speak with all the clubs, the European clubs as well as those in Brazil, to find a formula that is best for everyone."
He said he is not taking the first round of Copa America lightly. Ecuador currently lead Conmebol World Cup qualifying with 12 points, having thus far won matches over Argentina, Bolivia, Uruguay and Venezuela. Brazil, along with Paraguay and Chile, sit tied for third place, all with seven points.
"The groups are very even and much will depend upon the first match," he said. "Ecuador is having a great moment in the qualifiers. They have grown as a team. With Haiti is more about physical strength and speed, they are also much improved and they are especially motivated to play Brazil. We are going to be facing Peru three times over a short period. We struggled against them at Copa America. With [coach Ricardo] Gareca they are a solid team with great technical qualities."
Luis Enrique recently said there was no guarantee Barcelona would grant Brazil Neymar's release for the Olympics.
"The Olympic Games in your own country is something special for any sportsperson, no matter what the sport," said the Blaugrana coach, who won a gold medal with Spain when Barcelona hosted the Olympics in 1992. "'Ney' already has a prior commitment."
Luis Enrique was referring to Copa America in June where Neymar will again captain Brazil. FIFA confirmed in September that clubs were not obliged to release players for the Olympic tournament.
"We'll have to see how we manage the situation so the demands on him are not excessive, always putting [the health of] the player first," he said.
The Olympics are very close to the start of the football season in Spain -- the current season began on Aug. 22 -- and should Neymar attend the Games he would miss a good part of Barcelona's preseason.
Neymar's Barcelona teammate Lionel Messi will play in the Copa America but skip the Olympics, Argentina coach Gerardo Martino confirmed recently.