Fifa World Cup: Neymar injury play-acting draws criticism as Eric Cantona warns Brazil star ‘be careful’

Mexico defender Miguel Layun lays the boot in, while Manchester United legend Eric Cantona ruthlessly mocks Paris Saint-Germain forward

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 July, 2018, 1:06pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 July, 2018, 1:06pm

Neymar has been sublime and ridiculous in equal measure at the World Cup, scoring goals to thrill us and simulating fouls to infuriate us.

But it is the world’s most expensive footballer’s play-acting in Russia that has caught the most attention – Neymar was criticised last week for endlessly rolling around on the turf after a tackle in Brazil’s 2-0 win over Serbia.

The internet did its thing – fans on social media didn’t hold back in their creativity with their mocking memes.

And even Manchester United legend Eric Cantona has got in on the action, with a withering social media post dedicated to the Brazil star.

In a video that has gone viral, Cantona compared the Paris Saint-Germain forward to a yellow suitcase on wheels because “you barely touch it and it turns round and round for hours”.

In Neymar’s defence, he has been dealt some rough treatment so far at Russia 2018 – he has been fouled 23 times, more than any player.

But while he has attempted more shots and created more goalscoring chances than any player too, we’ve mostly seen the other, more frustrating side of Neymar that everyone loves to hate.

With 72 minutes gone against Mexico on Monday, Neymar infuriated us all. He had been fouled and was on the ground with the ball between his feet in front of the technical area.

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Mexico defender Miguel Layun came over to grab the ball and cheekily put his toe on Neymar’s ankle, but with his heel planted on the turf, meaning he would have been unable to generate much force at all.

Still, Neymar proceeded to scream and writhe around on the ground in agony.

“This is football. If he does not want to be touched he should try doing something else,” Layun said of his clash with Neymar.

“He is more concerned about being on the floor. If he wants to lie down, he should go home and sleep.

“He was down and I touched him looking for the ball, I know all about his talents but I also know his tricks.

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“We know Neymar and he likes to be the protagonist on and off the field. It’s obvious.

“Anyone who has seen the game knows exactly what I’m referring to. He’s like that. His personality is like that. You have to leave that aside and wish him the best like always.”

Neymar had already put Brazil 1-0 up in the last-16 meeting, and went on to set up Roberto Firmino to secure the victory.

“I think he’s a player with a lot of talent who hopefully one day dedicates himself to playing a little more,” Layun said.

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“The truth is he would be more spectacular if he dedicated himself more to playing football instead of … doing other things.

“Ultimately, I think that’s what’s important. I think maybe he was a bit worried and that was his way of getting rid of the stress he had.”

Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio also criticised a nameless player for “too many faking fouls”.