Neymar cracks up as Paris honeymoon ends
Young Brazilian superstar shows signs of discontent at PSG
It is with a raincloud hovering above the head of their talisman Neymar that Brazil are gearing up for their final assignment of 2017 at Wembley on Tuesday night.
Though Neymar has scored 11 goals in 12 games since his record move to Paris Saint-Germain from Barcelona, recent weeks have yielded stories of rifts with his teammates and disagreements with coach Unai Emery.
He cut a fragile figure in the press conference that followed Brazil's 3-1 win over Japan in a friendly in Lille on Friday, wiping away tears as national coach Tite spoke out in his defence and then hurriedly leaving the room.
"When you are an idol, an example in the eyes of so many people, you have to be perfect and very often I am not," Neymar said before his abrupt departure.
"I am a young man of 25 with a lot to learn."
Neymar has generally dazzled in Ligue 1 since completing his Euro222-million transfer from Barcelona, but his recent performances have betrayed signs of unease.
He was sent off in PSG's 2-2 draw at Marseille after being shown a second yellow card for reacting to a foul by Lucas Ocampos.
Though he scored (and squandered a penalty) against Japan, he was also booked for cuffing Hiroki Sakai on the back of the head.
More worrying yet for PSG fans have been the reports emanating from Brazil that Neymar has expressed regret about leaving Barcelona.
He has returned to Barcelona at least twice since the start of the season, pictured on social media with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, and is even reported to have asked them how they would feel if he came back for good.
But for PSG teammate Kylian Mbappe, Neymar's press conference was merely a reminder that the superstar is only flesh and blood.
"It just proves that he's a man like anyone else," Mbappe told French television channel TF1 on Sunday.
"He's like us - he has two arms, two legs and one heart. He can be affected by all the criticism he gets."
Neymar aside, Brazil have had little else to worry about, having finished 10 points clear in the South American qualifying tournament for next year's World Cup.
Tite is expected to rotate his starting 11 from the Japan game, with Neymar's PSG colleagues Dani Alves and Marquinhos, as well as Philippe Coutinho and Diego, among the players tipped to start.
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