RIO DE JANEIRO, Sept. 5 (Xinhua) -- Former Brazil and Real Madrid coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo has urged Neymar to resist offers to join Barcelona and remain in Brazil until the 2014 World Cup.
Luxemburgo, now coaching Gremio in Brazil's Serie A championship, denied the 20-year-old's development was being stunted by his decision to stay at Santos.
"He can and will develop as a player in Brazil. These days Brazilian football is of a better standard and better paid than many European leagues," Luxemburgo said in an interview with Estadao on Tuesday.
"He is in the top three players in the world already. By staying, he can correct his mistakes in a familiar environment and at the same time continue to be a drawcard for Brazilian football."
Neymar, who is contracted to Santos until 2014, has European clubs queuing for his signature, including heavyweights Barcelona, Real Madrid and Chelsea.
Spanish media reported that Barcelona has already made a down-payment for the striker to join the club next summer.
Luxemburgo is almost a lone voice amid growing calls for Neymar to test his talents against sterner defences in Spain, Italy or England.
Former national stars Ronaldo, Rivaldo and Dunga are among those who have stated the starlet must leave Brazil to fulfill his potential.
Luxemburgo believes Neymar's chief concern in Brazil, should he stay at Santos, is the preferential treatment afforded to him by local media.
He said perpetually portraying Neymar as an innocent victim will ultimately be to the detriment of the forward's development.
"The media has protected him perhaps too much," Luxemburgo said. "He doesn't need that. It seems that nobody can mark him without being criticized. It is part of his development process."