Ex-Lyon midfielder has warned his fellow Brazilian not to exert too much energy into trying to replace injured Barcelona star, Lionel Messi, after the Argentine was ruled out for 2 months with a knee injury.
“Neymar’s thoughts should not be: ‘I am going to replace Messi, I’m going to get the ball, score all the goals and make everything happen,” Juninho told Globo.
“It cannot be like this, but he has to take the initiative and know that Messi is not on the field and he maybe has to take the lead.
“With the Argentine absent, he may have to do this.”
While Juninho accepts that Neymar is comfortable with the responsibility required to lead a big team through his experience as captain of Brazil, he believes that the situation at club level is different.
“Even with the increased pressure it is not something that Neymar is not used to,” he added.
“At Santos he was always the centre of attention, and with the Brazilian national team.
“What will be harder, to lead the five-time world champions or the Spanish and European champions?
“I think that in Barcelona it is more difficult. In Brazil, he knows that he is already the leader of the team by what he does on the pitch and due to the absence of other players of his level.
“Therefore, I think that with Brazil it is easier and our need today causes us to have more patience with him.
“Nothing is easy – neither in the Selecao nor at Barcelona. The Brazilian national team is the best known in the world and Barcelona is the best club in the world.
“And when they lose their best player it is also difficult.”
Neymar will miss Brazil’s first two World Cup 2018 qualifying fixtures against Chile and Venezuela as he serves the remaining two games of a suspension carried over from this year’s Copa America.