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Luis Enrique urges Neymar to cope with off-field distractions

Barcelona coach Luis Enrique has suggested Neymar needs to handle off-field issues properly if he is to become a Barcelona greats.

The Brazil captain has been in the headlines of late with he and his father fighting allegations of tax evasion and fraud in respective Spanish and Brazilian cases.

Neymar Snr was also involved in a heated exchange with journalists at a nightclub where his son celebrated his 24th birthday on Friday two days prior to Barca’s 2-0 win over Levante.

The forward played the entirety of that victory and Luis Enrique believes all Barca players must be able to brush off such distractions.

“Being a player for a big team like Barca you have to be very strong,” he told a media conference on Tuesday.

“You have to be prepared for situations on and off the field, and everything that happens within the world of football.

“It’s difficult for players at big clubs to deal with these things. But any player who has been here for a long time has the capacity to deal with it.

“Sometimes it can be more important than being able to kick the ball.”

Barca face Valencia in the second leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final on Wednesday, boasting a seven-goal advantage after a comprehensive victory at Camp Nou.

While Luis Enrique urged his side not to coast through Wednesday’s encounter, he acknowledged: “In order to motivate players for such a big game, it’s a challenge, it’s a test for coaches to keep players competitive.

“But we’ve demonstrated it in the year-and-a-half that we’ve been here that the players can compete in any situation.

“I don’t expect tomorrow to be any different. We’ll try get the victory from the first minute. The objective will be the same as always, to try and be better than them. It’s a strange game because of the first leg but there isn’t such a huge difference between two teams as there was in the first leg.

“That is what happened and we’ll try forget that result and approach the game in the best way to pass into the final.”

Tue 9 Feb, 2016
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