Chelsea star Willian has been chosen to replace Neymar after the forward was forced out of Brazil’s Copa America plans.
Neymar’s Copa America hopes were ruined on Wednesday when he suffered an ankle injury early in his team’s friendly victory over Qatar.
The Paris-Saint Germain man tangled with Qatar midfielder Assim Madibo and ruptured a ligament in the joint, causing him to be substituted just 21 minutes into the game, which eventually finished 2-0 in Brazil’s favour.
Neymar will now return to France, where he will take the kick off in the opening match of the Women’s World Cup before continuing treatment on his injury at PSG.
And, while Lucas Moura of Tottenham and Real Madrid’s Vinicius Junior had been mentioned as replacements, Blues winger Willian has ultimately received the nod.
“The attacker Willian, of Chelsea, has been called up by the Brazil national team and will play the 2019 Brazil Copa America,” the Brazilian Football Confederation confirmed in a statement released on Friday.
“He has been called to replace Neymar, who was dropped from the squad following the friendly against Qatar.”
Willian will now have to return to his native Brazil from vacation in Israel, after missing out on Tite’s original 23-man call-up.
And, while he was not in the coach’s plans initially, the 30-year-old brings a wealth of international experience to the table for his country.
Willian made his debut for Brazil in November 2011 and has gone on to make 65 appearances in the Selecao, scoring eight goals.
He also represented his country in two World Cups, in 2014 on home soil and at Russia 2018, and with Neymar’s withdrawal he is the third most experienced player in Tite’s squad, behind captain Dani Alves (107 caps) and Thiago Silva (78).
Brazil kick off their Copa America campaign in Group A on Friday June 14 against Bolivia, before going on to face Venezuela and Peru in the tournament’s opening phase.