Pique expects Barcelona to benefit from Neymar's Olympic glow

Wed Aug 24, 2016 7:37am EDT
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(Reuters) - Neymar should return to Spain with renewed enthusiasm after leading Brazil to their first soccer gold medal at an Olympic Games, Barcelona defender Gerard Pique said.

Neymar, who has scored 85 goals in 141 games in his three seasons at Barcelona, was given permission to stay in Brazil until after international games early next month.

"I think it's a good decision to grant him (Neymar) that," Pique told El Mundo Deportivo. "He has earned it.

"I'm sure he is very happy and will come with a lot of enthusiasm to Barcelona."

Neymar scored the winning penalty in a shootout against Germany in Saturday's gold medal game at the Maracana stadium in Rio and then stepped down as Brazil captain, a position he had held since September 2014.

"It has been a difficult tournament for him," Pique said.

"To play at home means you have the pressure to win but Ney (Neymar) is accustomed to that. He has proved why he is one of the best in the world by scoring that penalty in the final."

Neymar has been away since May 23 after helping his club to win a La Liga and King's Cup double last season.

He is set to play for Brazil in 2018 World Cup qualifiers after being named in new coach Tite's squad.   Continued...

2016 Rio Olympics - Soccer - Final - Men's Football Tournament Gold Medal Match Brazil vs Germany - Maracana - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 20/08/2016. Neymar (BRA) of Brazil celebrates with goalkeeper Weverton (BRA) of Brazil after they won the penalty shootout and the gold medal. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger