The ex-Selecao trainer tells Goal.com that the 20-year-old Santos ace is already the best player in South America but needs to move to Europe to improve his gameEXCLUSIVE
By Alex Labidou
Former Brazil national team coach Dunga has urged Santos prodigy Neymar to move to Europe if he is to fulfil his potential.
The 20-year-old has rejected overtures from Real Madrid, Barcelona and Chelsea, insisting that he will make the switch when the time is right. While many believe that the starlet staying in Brazil is good for the growth of the league, Dunga argues that the youngster will be able to elevate his game by playing European football.
"Neymar is a good player, the best in South America and Brazil," Dunga told Goal.com in an exclusive interview. "Playing in Europe is always tougher. They mark you so much closer. I think that a player always needs to go to Europe to have that experience and get better."
Since breaking into the Santos first team in 2009, Neymar has scored 41 goals for the club where Pele became a legend. With Brazil's improving economy, players aren't being sold as frequently abroad as in the past and top players such as like Vagner Love and Ronaldinho are returning to the league.
Despite the increase in star names, many are concerned that Neymar's development might be hindered by staying in the country due to teams' lack of focus on defending and tactical play. Dunga believes that this summer's Olympics will prove how far the crafty attacker has come.
"He has a great opportunity in the Olympic Games to confirm some of that potential that he has," Dunga said.
With highly touted young players like Neymar, Ganso and Leandro Daimao leading the way, Dunga is confident that Brazil will finally win a gold medal in the Olympics this summer. In an earlier press conference, the 48-year-old admitted that coaches in the past were never given sufficient time to build up to the tournament, but he expects things will be different in London.
"In the past, coaches had just days to prepare a team. This year I think Brazil are more prepared and the players that they've assembled are all the best in their individual teams," Dunga explained. "Neymar, Lucas and Damiao are really important players. Oscar, as well. They're doing great stuff not only in the domestic tournament, but also Copa Libertadores and even some European tournaments."
He added, "They have to take advantage that Argentina isn't there. Obviously, [Team GB] will be a favourite because they're playing in their country. But there's a big opportunity for Brazil to win an Olympic medal."
Dunga also expects the senior national team to thrive in the 2014 World Cup. He admitted that he is concerned about the Selecao's current form but expects head coach Mano Menezes to turn things around.
"I think that Brazil have a great opportunity. Logically, they're not doing so well right now but they have players and quality," Dunga told Goal.com. "They have a very good chance. Brazil have great players, they just need to work."
Dunga has been unemployed as a coach since leaving his post after Brazil exited the 2010 World Cup in the quarter-finals, losing 2-1 to the eventual runners-up Netherlands. While he was criticised for his defensive style of play, Brazil won the 2007 Copa America and the 2009 Confederations Cup.
Dunga says that he is enjoying relaxing in his home country but admits that he is ready to get back into coaching when the right opportunity comes along.
"I'm in Brazil, I'm calm, resting. When I get a good offer that suits me, I'll listen," he said. "To me, coaching all over the world is no problem. I love football and to me working in football is fun."