Copa America: Neymar replacement to be announced soon; Vinicius set to miss out in favour of Renato Augusto
What's the story?
Brazil have been rocked by an ankle injury to star player and talisman Neymar ahead of the Copa America 2019. The injury has ruled the 27-year-old starlet out of the South American continental trophy which is set to kick-off on 15th June.
As per latest reports, manager Tite has zeroed in on Beijing Guoan's midfielder Renato Augusto as his preferred choice to replace Neymar, with Real Madrid's Vinicius Junior and Tottenham Hotspur's Lucas Moura deemed to not fit the bill.
In case you didn't know...
Neymar had missed most of the 2018-19 season with Paris Saint-Germain due to numerous injuries, including a broken foot from which he fully returned only in May. Despite this, the mercurial Brazilian managed 23 goals and 9 assists for the Parisian giants in just 26 starts.
Neymar hobbled off the pitch in Brazil's 2-0 friendly win over Qatar earlier this week and was immediately declared unavailable for the Copa America with a ligament rupture in his right ankle.
He was by some distance the best player available for selection for Tite, having racked up an incredible 60 goals in 97 appearances for the Selecao, leading them to the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup title as well as the 2016 Olympic Gold.
The heart of the matter
As reported by Spanish media outlet AS, despite Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) officials lobbying for Real Madrid's 18-year-old sensation Vinicius Junior to be declared as Neymar's replacement, Tite has stood firm on his decision to pick Renato Augusto instead.
Augusto has been a favorite of the coach ever since his time with Corinthians, where they won the Brazilian League title in 2015 together.
A member of the Gold medal-winning Brazil squad in the 2016 Summer Olympics, Augusto was also selected for Tite's 2018 FIFA World Cup squad as well.
His club career in Europe never really took off due to recurring injuries during his stint at Bayer Leverkusen between 2008 and 2012. The 31-year-old has, however, shined since his arrival in the Chinese Super League, having scored 4 goals and provided 5 assists for Beijing Guoan this season from 12 starts.
Brazil face Honduras in another friendly on Monday before kicking off their Copa America campaign on 15th June, Saturday against Bolivia.