Former Germany captain Lothar Matthaus has told Neymar to cut out the diving and focus on his football.
The Brazilian superstar has divided opinion at this World Cup with his occasionally brilliant play and often comical play-acting.
Speaking at the launch of this year’s The Best FIFA Football Awards, Matthaus said: “Neymar doesn’t need to act – he’s an excellent player and he has everything a high-level player needs.
“(Diego) Maradona wasn’t acting, (Lionel) Messi doesn’t act. (Cristiano) Ronaldo is an actor in a different way but not like this. We need players like Neymar in the game but not like this.”
The 57-year-old German was also unimpressed by Colombia’s antics against England on Tuesday and it reminded him of one of his former opponents.
“When you speak about 1990 and a diver or actor, I think about (Carlos) Valderrama and he was sitting next to me (during Tuesday’s game in Moscow). And it came back to me watching Colombia how he acted and provoked.
“But in 1990, Colombia had only one Valderrama, now they have five or six. I don’t like this provocation and acting.
“And with (video assistant referees), I cannot understand why a player would treat another player like this or the spectators.”
Matthaus, Germany’s World Cup-winning captain in 1990, also blamed American referee Mark Geiger for losing control of the Colombia-England match.
“You have to cut it out. Like yesterday, he forgot to cut out Colombia’s style. He let them do it,” said Matthaus.
“We missed three minutes before the (Harry Kane) penalty because they were arguing. Give a yellow card and if it is still going on give a second yellow and a red.
“We want to see football. If people want to see acting they go somewhere else, not the stadium.”
Returning to Neymar, Matthaus said he did not believe the Brazilian was quite on a par with Messi and Ronaldo.
That could change, however, if Brazil win the World Cup, the former Bayern Munich and Inter Milan midfielder said, although he made the same point about England’s Harry Kane and France’s Kylian Mbappe.
“Why don’t we speak about Mbappe or Kane, who’s the top scorer in England the last three or four years, is the captain of the national team and has six goals at the World Cup? For me, he is a candidate (for the best player award), Mbappe is a candidate,” said Matthaus.
Also at the launch was the original Ronaldo, who won the 1994 and 2002 World Cups with Brazil, and he was more supportive of his compatriot Neymar.
The 41-year-old said: “There are many ways to interpret football and I don’t agree that he dives.
“He is an intelligent player in his movements and how he defends himself from being tackled. I don’t think referees have been protecting him enough.
“When people repeatedly fouled me I felt a sense of unfairness. The criticism of Neymar is nonsense, his results with Brazil are incredible and he is still not at his best.”