The Arsenal striker says that after the Barcelona attacker took time to settle at Camp Nou, he has now established himself as a key man for club and country
Olivier Giroud says France will have to pay special attention to Brazil captain Neymar when the two nations meet in a friendly in Paris on Thursday.
Neymar has led the Selecao to six consecutive victories since being appointed as skipper by Dunga, who succeeded Luis Felipe Scolari as coach after last year’s humiliating World Cup campaign on home soil.
Consequently, Giroud says that France can ill afford to take either Neymar or Brazil lightly at the Stade de France, even though Les Bleus go into the game on the back of wins over Spain and Portugal during the November internationals.
“Neymar is the leader of this Brazil team,” he told RMC. “He is very well suited to Europe and the Spanish league.
“He was very strong in South America. We did not know how he was going to settle in Europe and he needed a little time to adapt.
“But he is now fully integrated. He is decisive and important for Barca, and it’s the same for Brazil.
“He is a great player, so we will have to be careful.
“We beat major football nations in November. So we have managed to raise our level. I think we are in constant progression.
“Are we now among the top three teams in the world? I will not go that far. But we can have ambition with this team.
“It’s a friendly game but against a big side like Brazil. Although they had a poor performance at the World Cup, they are still Brazil, with all of the talent that they always have.
“It will be good for us to measure ourselves against this team.”