Neymar’s decisive penalty in the Olympics final proved he is among the world’s best players, according to Barcelona team-mate Gerard Pique.
The 24-year-old scored Brazil’s fifth and final spot-kick in a dramatic shootout against Germany to seal the nation’s first football gold medal in front of a jubilant Maracana.
Neymar struck a brilliant free-kick to give his side the lead before Max Meyer equalised to force a 1-1 draw after extra-time, but the captain held his nerve to convert the winning penalty after Nils Petersen’s effort had been saved by Weverton.
Barca coach Luis Enrique has granted Neymar extended leave in Brazil until after the international break, and Pique believes he deserves his extra holiday after leading his country to victory on home soil.
“At the Olympic Games, Neymar showed that he is one of the world’s best players because, to be champions, he had to score the decisive penalty. He has won more holiday time,” Pique said at a Pokerstars event, as quoted by AS.
“It has not been easy for him because to play with the Brazil shirt implies a lot of pressure to win.
“For him and his team-mates it has been a very tough tournament and the fact that he can now enjoy some more days of rest was a very good decision.”
Pique started Barca’s opening match in LaLiga – a 6-2 win over Real Betis at Camp Nou – alongside Samuel Umtiti, who joined from Lyon for €25million in July.
The Spain international has been impressed with his new team-mate’s application since his move, and expects Luis Enrique to rotate his options at centre-back given the increased competition.
“He is young, but is very good. He has arrived with a lot of enthusiasm,” Pique said.
“At the centre-back position, there are very good players and, knowing the manager, we will all play.”
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