Dani Alves has leapt to the defense of club and international teammate Neymar for deciding against facing the media on the eve of Brazil's friendly against Switzerland.
The forward had been scheduled to appear at the press conference in Basel, but he withdrew late in the day, much to the frustration of the many journalists in attendance.
Dani Alves did attend, though, and he asked the media to show a little understanding, given Neymar's physical condition has been the subject of much debate ever since Barcelona announced earlier this month that the forward has anemia.
"Everyone's talking a lot about these little problems that he is having," Alves said. "So, it's important for him to not get distracted by all these problems being discussed at the moment and not let them interfere with his development.
"You have to forgive the boy. He's focused on what he wants and he is so important for us.
"And it's always been better to work hard and speak little."
Neymar, who inspired Brazil to victory in this summer's Confederations Cup, joined Barcelona from boyhood club Santos for a fee of $75 million.
- Dani Alves