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Neymar is being persecuted, claims Alves

Barcelona forward Neymar is being persecuted by the local media, according to Valencia goalkeeper Diego Alves.

Defending La Liga champions Barca have come under intense scrutiny after three straight defeats have resulted in their nine-point advantage at the summit being wiped out by Atletico Madrid.

Neymar's recent contributions - the Brazilian is without a goal in his last five matches for the club - have been met with staunch criticism.

Alves believes the treatment of Neymar is unfair, but suggested his Brazil team-mate already knows how to cope with such negative attention.

"I think it is persecution, it happens with everyone, but for being Neymar, or Messi, they always create controversies," he told Globo Esporte. "They are already used to this kind of situation."

Following the conclusion of Barca's 2-1 defeat at home to Valencia on Saturday, Neymar appeared to slap Antonio Barragan on the head, with some reports claiming he threw a water bottle which struck the right-back in the tunnel.

Alves was unaware of the incident at the time, but appears happy to move on and forget it.

"Neymar was normal. I talked to him before the game, [he was] very calm, no problem," added the goalkeeper.

"I did not see what happened at the end of the game, I was giving an interview on the pitch. When it happens, everyone goes back to their home and it ends."

Alves missed out on the chance to join Neymar in the Brazil squad for Copa America 2015, but he is hoping to do enough to represent his country in this year's edition, or the Olympic Games in Rio.

"I cannot speak about it, because I may not even be called. It is up to the coach to decide if I will play or not," he added.

"What I can do is train to my best and finish the season well, without injury. Last year I got to the last game, in the final 15 minutes, I had a knee injury that took me out of the Copa America.

"Now I will try to finish the season well and wait for the opportunity."