Thiago Silva called on Philippe Coutinho to step up for Brazil in Neymar’s absence at the Copa America.
Brazil thrashed a 10-man Honduras 7-0 in their final friendly before the tournament on Sunday, with Coutinho scoring a penalty and providing an assist.
Neymar will miss the Copa America due to an ankle injury in a huge blow for the hosts, who are considered among the favourites.
Silva acknowledged Coutinho had endured a tough campaign at Barcelona, but he hopes the attacker can deliver with Neymar sidelined.
“The collective game comes first. Coutinho had a difficult season in Barcelona. It was demanding and they booed him many times, but here in the team he is our reference, especially when we don’t have Neymar,” he said.
“Coutinho calls for the game. In the two friendlies we played he was the best player on the pitch, not only because of passes and goals, but also with his defence. He is finding his happiness again.
“I’m very happy and not at all comfortable talking about this player because we are very close.
“In the first friendly, I tried to pass him some calmness, and I told Neymar also to give him help.
“We need him, especially now with the absence of Neymar.”
Brazil open their Copa campaign against Bolivia on Friday