Brazil star Neymar has come out in support of Antony after the Manchester United winger’s showboating drew criticism from the punditry community.
The 22-year-old, who joined United from Ajax in an £82m deal this summer, performed a 720-degree spin with the ball glued to his foot during the first half of his side’s Europa League game against Sheriff Tiraspol.
The move prompted intense criticism and became one of the week’s biggest talking points, with Paul Scholes labelling Antony a ‘clown’ and Robbie Savage suggesting the winger should have been ‘dragged’ off the pitch.
United manager Erik ten Hag went on to substitute Antony at half-time, although the Dutchman insisted his decision was not prompted by the display of showboating.
But despite the criticism, Antony has found support amongst his international teammates – most notably Neymar, who took to social media to defend his compatriot.
The Paris Saint-Germain winger posted a video of Antony’s trick on Instagram with the caption: “Keep it up, don’t change anything! Go for it boy! Boldness and joy.”
Speaking to ESPN, Fred said: “It’s very annoying that they want to say that.
“I think it starts with us being Brazilians. Brazilians have quality in their blood. It’s always been that way since Pele, to have quality, to dribble, to score, to dance, to smile.
“So I think people have to understand this aspect that we have. So it wasn’t offensive to anyone what he did. Of course, if it’s offensive, we’ll come to him in the dressing room and talk. But it was not offensive to anyone. It’s his game. I think he has to keep doing it.
“Dribbling, doing what he likes to do because he has the quality for it, so he has to keep doing it. Casemiro and I don’t have the quality for that, so we can’t do it.
“I think those who have quality have to show it on the pitch there. If you want to control differently, you can control.
“You want to do a spin that he likes to do, you have to do it. Dance, you can dance. As long as it’s with respect to the opponent, obviously.”