Neymar Paris Saint-GermainGetty

Neymar not a leader and needs to improve a lot off the pitch, says former Brazil team-mate Rafael

Former Manchester United and Brazil defender Rafael has called on Neymar to improve how he handles matters off the pitch to ensure he can guide his country to success in the coming years.

Rafeal played alongside Neymar for Selecao at the 2012 Olympics in London and has since kept a close eye on the Paris Saint-Germain attacker. 

With next year's Copa America and the 2022 World Cup now in Brazil's sights, Rafeal hopes Neymar can make adjustments off the field to guarantee he's ready to shine for the national team when the time comes. 

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"We need Neymar, that's for sure," Rafael told ESPN. "We need him a lot. He needs to improve a lot of things outside the pitch. It's important for a footballer.

"He needs to improve a lot outside the pitch to come inside the pitch and do his best. I hope he can do that and if he does we have a big chance to win.

"Neymar is not a leader. I don't think he's a leader. It's not him. He can do the things he does because if he is good, if he's focused and concentrated, he is the best player in the world."

While sometimes inconsistent for club and country, Neymar did play a pivotal role in Brazil's gold medal win at the 2016 Olympics in Rio as he ended the tournament with four goals to his name that included strikes in the semi-final and final. 

Having become a football superstar at such a young age, Rafael believes Neymar struggles to remain focused on football and has never been good at taking orders. 

"Football has to the first option of your life. He has so many things around him. He thinks in his mind 'I don't need to do that' to play well but you need to," Rafael added.

"There are a lot of things you need to do. If he does that and someone can put this in his mind - I know him and I've played with him - I know he's a hard guy to listen to orders. It's not good with him.

"I say the truth but sometimes people don't want to listen to the truth. They want you to say 'you are good, you are magic' they want you to say all the good stuff but life is not like that.

"I think he needs to listen more and if he does that it will be hard to stop Brazil."

Neymar has been linked with a possible return to Barcelona over the past year but Ligue 1 is confident he'll be staying at PSG for at least another season