Brazil head coach Tite has rejected suggestions he has asked Neymar to become more of team player.
The Paris Saint-Germain forward made a successful return from a broken metatarsal to score in the Selecao’s pre-World Cup friendlies against Croatia and Austria.
But he cut a frustrated figure as he laboured in vain for a winner during Brazil’s opening 1-1 draw with Switzerland at Russia 2018.
Philippe Coutinho’s stunning first-half strike crowned a superb start to the match from Tite’s side, but their push to regain the lead following Steven Zuber’s equaliser floundered as attacks increasingly channelled through Neymar lacked the earlier verve.
A reporter at Tite’s pre-match news conference for Friday’s meeting with Costa Rica asked about speculation the 26-year-old had been taken to task for his approach – a scenario that was dismissed in no uncertain terms.
“I don’t like to personalise it like that, but absolutely not,” Tite said. “The information you got is not true. That didn’t happen.
“All the players have this responsibility of playing for the collective and also being individuals with some specific characteristics.
“Neymar, I’m not going to take away his initiative in the last third of the pitch – his genius.
“Respectfully, I know of your virtues and your knowledge and your qualities, but it’s not true.”
Indeed, the requirement for Brazil’s enviable assortment of attacking talent to express themselves does not rest solely with Neymar.
“That applies to him, Gabriel Jesus, Coutinho, [Roberto] Firmino and Willian,” Tite added.
“You have to create possibilities for the finish in the final third of the pitch, I’m not going to take that away from anybody.
“Transitions, better training, sometimes going for the full-back – those are things we have to work on. But the main characteristic [of the players] stays.”