Neymar Image Credit: Reuters

Rio de Janeiro: Brazil coach Tite has included Manchester United’s Andreas Pereira and Barcelona’s Arthur Melo in a vastly changed squad for friendlies against the United States and El Salvador next month.

Flamengo playmaker Lucas Paqueta, Fluminense striker Pedro, Gremio winger Everton and Porto centre-back Felipe were among the other newcomers in Brazil’s 24-man squad announced on Friday.

Teenage Flamengo goalkeeper Hugo Souza was also selected despite having never played for the Rio de Janeiro club’s first team.

But there was no place for Manchester City trio Gabriel Jesus, Fernandinho and Ederson while Real Madrid left-back Marcelo and Inter Milan centre-back Miranda were also left out.

Brazil face the United States in New Jersey on September 7 and El Salvador in Washington four days later.

The matches will be the team’s first since their 1-2 World Cup quarter-final defeat to Belgium in Russia last month.

Pereira’s selection comes just a week after he made his English Premier League (EPL) debut for Manchester United in a deep-lying midfield role.

The 22-year-old is also eligible to play for Belgium, the country of his birth but has publicly stated a preference for Brazil, where both his parents are from.

Tite said he plans to test as many young players as possible ahead of next year’s Copa America in Brazil and the start of the 2022 World Cup qualifying tournament later in 2019.

“It’s time to take a look at these players,” he told a news conference in Rio de Janeiro. “The players who missed out have their importance but now we are taking the opportunity to observe a new generation.”

Tite said Brazil’s World Cup elimination left a “bad taste” and defended star forward Neymar, who has been heavily criticised for apparent play-acting during the tournament.

“I’m not here to judge or conceptualise behaviours,” he said. “I’m not going to give my opinion about what people say, what the media reports. Neymar deserves praise for his behaviour, for his discipline.”

The 57-year-old reaffirmed his belief that Neymar is among the world’s top three players and insisted that Brazil’s No. 10 “has great potential to grow more.”

Meanwhile, Barcelona star Lionel Messi will miss Argentina’s upcoming friendlies against Guatemala and Colombia as interim coach Lionel Scaloni revamps the national squad after a disappointing World Cup.

Only nine players who went to Russia were included in a 23-man list released by the Argentine Football Association on Friday. Messi’s absence had been expected following widespread media reports that he requested a break from the national team. Also missing were Paris Saint-Germain attacker Angel Di Maria, Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero and AC Milan forward Gonzalo Higuain.

Argentina face Guatemala in Los Angeles on September 7 and Colombia in New Jersey four days later.

The matches will be Argentina’s first since their fitful World Cup campaign, which included a 3-0 loss to Croatia and ended with a 4-3 defeat to eventual champions France.