Neymar Doubt Raised by Dunga, Luis Enrique for Copa America Centenario

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistFebruary 22, 2016

Brazil's Neymar during a 2018 World Cup qualifying soccer match against Argentina in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
Natacha Pisarenko/Associated Press

Brazil national team coach Dunga and Barcelona manager Luis Enrique have both raised doubts regarding Neymar's status for this summer's Copa America Centenario and Olympic tournament.

The prolific forward could be eligible to play in both tournaments, but it's unclear whether Barcelona will allow him to schedule such a busy summer on the heels of a long season.

As reported by FourFourTwo, Dunga told reporters he's yet to talk to Barcelona about Neymar's status for this summer: "We have not even talked with [Barca coach] Luis Enrique. We're seeing. Our intention is to talk to the clubs and see the best formula, not hurt anyone. We have to speak personally to the player and find a good solution for everyone."

Meanwhile, per Universo Online (h/t NBC Sports' Nick Zaccardi), Enrique made it clear he understands why Neymar would be keen to represent Brazil this summer, but he also said the club is looking for a “lighter load” for the winger:

It’s a special situation for any athlete: the Olympic Games in your [home] country. We will discuss it, because it’s complicated. There are competitions here and that carry weight. Neymar also has the Copa America [Centenario], and we need to observe the physical aspect. … We are looking for a lighter load that benefits the player himself.

Per Zaccardi, the Copa America Centenario, a special edition of South America's top international tournament, will run June 3-26. The Summer Olympics, which will be held in Brazil, will run from Aug. 3-20.

If Neymar were to play in both tournaments, he would have virtually no time to recharge his batteries after a long campaign with Barcelona, and his pre-season with the Catalans would take a major hit as well.

Per Paulo Freitas of Sky Sports, Enrique has so far refused to clarify whether he'll allow the 24-year-old to play in both competitions or just the one:

Choosing between the two tournaments could prove difficult for the Barcelona star. Playing in the Olympics is always an honour, particularly if the Games are organised on home soil, and after their disappointing 2014 FIFA World Cup, Brazil will be eager to put up a show for their home fans.

But to play in the Copa America Centenario, the first-ever edition of the tournament to be organised outside of South America, would also be a tremendous honour. Schedule-wise, that tournament would put less pressure on his pre-season with Barcelona, and event organisers have already ramped up the pressure, per Selecao Brasileira:

Per Zaccardi, FIFA have informed clubs they have no obligation to make their players available for the Olympic tournament, so if Enrique decides he wants Neymar by his side in August, the Brazilian will have no choice but to comply.

Barcelona will likely take the player's wishes into account, however, so Neymar will have to decide how he wants to spend his summer in the coming months.