Currently in the Brazilian camp preparing for the upcoming FIFA World Cup, Raphinha sat down with Globo Esporte (h/t Diario AS) to talk about the coveted tournament while also offering thoughts on former Barcelona superstar and international teammate Neymar.
Raphinha appears to harbour an excellent relationship with the PSG superstar, as he said, “Off the field, we get along very well. Neymar is an incredible person and welcoming. Today he receives the young players of the national team in the best possible way.
We have a very good relationship off the field. When I go to Paris or he comes to Barcelona we meet and have dinner. For me it’s very recent, being able to call Ney a close friend is an immense honoir. He is one of the guys who inspire me,” he added.
The Barcelona winger, who arrived at the club only last summer, went on to reveal the influence Neymar has had in his international career, adding:
“He told me to be myself, that I play the football that made me reach the national team, to go up and not lower my head.”
Since making his debut for Brazil in October 2021, Raphinha has won 11 caps for the national team. Many now expect him to play a crucial role in helping the Selecao secure the coveted World Cup for the first time since 2002.
Raphinha, though, is not taking anything for granted. “I will play as if it were my last [World Cup]. I talk to my father, we always talk, and we see each game as if it were the last because you don’t know tomorrow.
“I can’t guarantee that I will play another World Cup. Honestly, I don’t know. I will play as if it were the last. Maybe I’ll play another, maybe not. It depends. Maybe they could change coach, I don’t know if the new coach will like me,” he added.
The Brazilian international also talked about his Barcelona teammate Robert Lewandowski. He hailed the Pole for his fitness and athleticism even at the age of 34.
“I will tell you the truth. Since he is an older guy, I expected less from him. But he got here and every training session he does is incredible.
It’s never enough for him, he always gives his best, he runs a lot, he helps with marking, he moves well in the area, he has a good header, he finishes off with both legs, it’s amazing.
“You see yourself at 25, working hard, you think you’re at your best, and you see a guy who’s 34 trying to do his best every day, so it’s amazing. His way of working is very inspiring,” he added.
Finally, Raphinha offered his take on Dani Alves, who had been training with Barcelona B side recently, and the level of influence he holds in the Brazilian team. He also praised him for his leadership qualities, saying:
“He is a guy who, since he finished the Mexican championship and came here, is looking for his best physical shape. He works hard. I see him as a great player, a great worker, and a great captain. There is nothing to say about his leadership, it is spectacular.”.
There has been some criticism over Tite’s decision to include Dani Alves in the World Cup squad. Giving his take on the matter, Raphinha said:
“It is difficult to say because if they include him as it happened, people criticize it, and they would do it if he was not included too.”
“I follow very little journalism, I focus on my work, and my family. One day you’re up there and another day you’re down there. When you’re down and you don’t have a good head you end up trembling and you can’t get out.
“When they tell you great things you end up deceiving yourself, and when they tell you bad things you think you’re the worst in the world, and you’re not,” he added.