Neymar set for return to England

Neymar, the next Brazilian sensation, will be playing in England next summer - whether he signs for a Premier League club or not.

The teenager with the barmy barnet and twinkling feet, who lit up the Emirates on Sunday, may sign for a club in west London or Manchester this summer, but there will be fierce competition from Italy and Spain. Barring injury he will, though, be on these shores for the 2012 Olympic tournament.

Many in the UK believe professional footballers have no place in the Olympics, and the Football Associations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are determined none of theirs will be involved in next summer’s tournament, but the globe’s greatest soccer nation are keen indeed.

Despite reaching the semi-final in five of the last nine competitions Brazil have never won Olympic gold, a failing they are determined to put right. Mano Menezes, who coaches both the senior and Olympic team, said Sunday’s defeat of Scotland was part of the build-up to the tournament. Neymar, Lucas, Leandro Damiao and Tottenham’s Sandro, who all featured on Sunday, plus Manchester United’s Rafael and Milan’s Alexandre Pato are all likely to be included in a squad which will be the overwhelming favourites – not least because holders Argentina are out. Lucas Leiva of Liverpool, and Chelsea’s Ramires, may well be included as two of the three permitted over-age players as they both have Olympic experience having reached the semi-finals in Beijing 2008 (where a Brazilian team including Ronaldinho lost to an Argentine one including Lionel Messi – Lucas Leiva was dismissed for kicking Javier Mascherano).

Brazil will be the hot ticket in the 2012 tournament (unless, perhaps, GB call up David Beckham) but unfortunately for would-be spectators ticket sales are ‘blind’. By the time all the qualifiers are known, and the draw is made, all may be sold.

Anyone that does get a ticket to Brazil will be fortunate indeed for Sunday’s match confirmed Menezes has restored the jogo bonito. “I want the team to play in the image Brazilians expect their team to play,” he said after Scotland had been forced to chase for 90 minutes. With the central midfielders allowed to break forward as well as the full-backs Menezes Brazil were more attractive to watch than that Dunga took to the quarter-finals of the 2010 World Cup.

Whether the transformation survives prolonged contact with stronger opposition remains to be seen. The new team has already lost to France and Argentina, and Menezes will be under pressure to deliver at the Copa America this summer. It does, though, have plenty of talent, not least in Neymar who will cost £30m-plus should he leave Santos this summer.

The one caveat about him concerned his readiness to go to ground. That angered the Tartan Army and appears to have led to what seems an erroneous allegation that he was racially abused.

The SFA were angered by the accusation made by Neymar and Lucas Leiva who look to have mis-construed the presence of a banana on the pitch, and the jeering of Neymar, as evidence of racism.

An SFA statement said: "The Scottish FA refutes claims from Neymar that he was the victim of racist jeers," adding fans had booed him "for perceived unsporting behaviour."

Police match commander Mark Sheeran said: "The Scottish fans' behaviour was first class. There were no issues at all inside the stadium."

The SFA says it will contact the Brazilian Football Federation and the match organisers, Kentaro, to inform them of Sheeran's comments and of supporters' widespread unhappiness at the accusations.

Anecdotal evidence, which is impossible to confirm, suggested the banana was thrown by a Brazilian fan in celebration at Neymar’s successful spot kick. It did come from a part of the ground mainly populated by Braziiian fans. Furthermore were anyone present indulging in racist behaviour it seems unlikely it would be directly solely at the relatively light-skinned Neymar when the much darker Ramires received no abuse.

On the playing side, though Scotland were outclassed, Craig Levein insisted the week as a whole, which included a training camp in La Manga, Spain, had been ‘great’.

"We've managed to spend a bit of time together and you could see how much they wanted to try for each other," the Scotland manager said. "This whole week was about bonding, getting together, understanding each other, getting to know each other. You saw that on the pitch.”

Levein added that the younger players who were involved, like Aston Villa’s Barry Bannan and debutant Craig Mackail-Smith, would benefit from the experience of playing in an occasion such as Sunday’s.

Levein is likely to experiment further – not least because of he inevitable player withdrawals – in the forthcoming Carling Nations Cup matches against Wales and the Republic of Ireland in Dublin in May. Come September, however, he will hope to have several key players back for a brace of home Euro 2012 qualifiers against the Czech Republic and Lithuania.

"These are the games that are the important ones and we'll be ready for those," he said. "We'll get Steven Naismith, Darren Fletcher, Jamie Mackie, Graham Dorrans and others back into the team. That's a quality group of players.”

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
peopleMathematician John Nash inspired the film Beautiful Mind
Richard Blair is concerned the trenches are falling into disrepair
newsGeorge Orwell's son wants to save war site that inspired book
Life and Style
Audrey Hepburn with Hubert De Givenchy, whose well-cut black tuxedo is a 'timeless look'
fashionIt may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
Arts and Entertainment
The pair in their heyday in 1967
Life and Style
fashionFrom bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine