Dani Alves defends Neymar's media silence

Neymar's strained relationship with Brazilian journalists stems from a news conference in July when he was forced to rebut claims that his celebrity lifestyle was taking his focus off football

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Belo Horizonte, Nov 13: Brazil's football team captain Dani Alves has defended star forward Neymar's ongoing refusal to speak with the country's media.

The Barcelona forward's strained relationship with Brazilian journalists stems from a news conference in July when he was forced to rebut claims that his celebrity lifestyle was taking his focus off football, reports Xinhua.

Neymar and Dani Alves (Image courtesy: Dani Alves Twitter handle)

Since then the 24-year-old has spoken to local media only once, informing a reporter on live television of his decision to quit the national captaincy after Brazil won the Olympic football gold medal in August.

"Sometimes criticism transcends what happens on the pitch and that can cause sensitivity," Alves told a news conference here on Saturday.

"I think it (Neymar's silence) has to do with that criticism. If (the media) only spoke about what was happening on the pitch, I am sure this wouldn't happen," added Alves, who was Neymar's teammate at Barcelona for three seasons before the defender's July move to Juventus.

Alves was speaking to reporters ahead of what will be his 100th international appearance against Peru in Lima on Tuesday.

To mark the occasion the Brazilian football confederation CBF handed the 33-year-old a Brazil shirt with the number 100 on the back.

"Sometimes it's hard to believe how many great moments I've had with the national team. It makes me very happy," Alves said.

Brazil lead the South American zone World Cup qualifying standings and will all but secure a berth at the 2018 tournament in Russia with a victory on Tuesday.

The Selecao defeated South American traditional rival Argentina 3-0 in Belo Horizonte last Thursday thanks to goals from Philippe Coutinho, Neymar and Paulinho.

IANS

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