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Will the World Cup be Neymar’s last international tournament?

It may be October, but the days are being counted down to the start of the 2022 World Cup. It promises to be a memorable tournament, and Brazil again has strong fancies of becoming world champions. Will this be the last international tournament that Neymar plays in?

The PSG player seems to have been around forever, but he’s still only 30. He’ll be 34 when the 2026 World Cup is held in Canada, Mexico and the USA. Neymar has already got many interests off the pitch, including playing Texas Hold’em poker tournaments in Las Vegas, where he spent part of last summer.

It was 12 years ago that Neymar made his international debut. He goes into the 2022 World Cup with 121 caps and 75 goals. Twenty of those have come in either World Cup qualifiers or the finals.  Just three more goals will see him become the leading scorer for Brazil, going ahead of the legendary Pele.

This year has been an eventful one for the Brazilian international. He began the year on the injured list, not playing until February. By the end of the season, there were rumours that PSG wanted to offload him. Many articles were written about where he would begin the 2022/23 season.

No transfer took place, leaving the French champions with a formidable trio of Neymar, Mbappe and Messi. The new season has seen all three in great form and Neymar has been in great shape.

Up to the international break in September, he’d not just scored eight goals but made seven assists too. No wonder PSG decided to keep him at their club.

Will the 2022 World Cup be his final international tournament? A lot will depend on whether Neymar wants to follow in the footsteps of some of the other members of the current Brazilian squad.

Thiago Silva is 38 years old, Everton Ribeiro 33 and Weverton, 34. If they can still be contributing a great deal to the Brazilian squad, then we can’t rule out seeing Neymar in 2026.

There is much promising young talent in their squad who could make it difficult for Neymar to keep his place. Richarlison, Antony, Raphinha, Vinicius Jr, Rodrygo and Pedro all look to have promising international careers ahead of them. Will they oust Junior in the next few years?

There will still be Copa America tournaments for him to play in. The next Copa America takes place in 2024; perhaps that might prove to be his swan song.

A lot depends on what Neymar wants to do in the future. He’s still enjoying a successful club and international career. There have been some injuries in recent years, which may reduce the number of years he has left in the game. While he remains fit, though, Neymar will likely want to continue his career at club level and playing internationals.

Neymar isn’t just looking to be a successful playing football. One of many talented Brazilian attackers, he loves playing Texas Hold’em Poker and not just having a game with other members of the PSG squad. The 30-year-old has enjoyed success playing against the top poker players in the world.

Since 2020 Neymar has been a cultural ambassador for a poker site. He’s already on record saying that becoming a professional poker player is planned when he retires from football. During the 2014 World Cup, he first started playing poker and admits that he fell in love with the game.

Neymar even named his pet dog ‘Poker.’ He went on to play even more when with Barcelona, and now he’s at PSG. The 30-year-old spent some of this summer playing poker tournaments, and he’s no stranger to playing in Las Vegas.

Several footballers love playing poker. Perhaps one day we’ll see Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo around the same table? Neymar says there are similarities between the two games. He says that it’s “the ways how you read your game and your opponent and choose when to attack.”

Attacking is, of course, what he does best. However, he admits that sometimes he does play too many hands. He’ll have to sort that problem out if he wants to rise to the top of the professional poker circuit.

One fact that might keep Neymar playing is his desire to win a World Cup with Brazil. That’s yet to happen, and who knows, if they become world champions in December, that might persuade him to retire earlier and head for the poker tables.

Photo by Unsplash

Article title: Will the World Cup be Neymar’s last international tournament?

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