Sat, Mar 03, 2018 - Page 16 News List

Neymar sidelined for up to three months

AFP, RIO DE JANEIRO

Brazilian superstar Neymar will be sidelined for up to three months — perilously close to the eve of the World Cup — after undergoing surgery on his broken foot, his doctor said.

The worse than previously announced prognosis came as the Paris Saint-Germain striker, 26, arrived in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from Paris for today’s operation.

“The [recovery] period will be around two-and-a-half to three months,” national team surgeon Rodrigo Lasmar, who flew with Neymar, said on Thursday.

The injury has not only ruled the world’s most expensive player out of PSG’s make-or-break Champions League clash with Real Madrid on Tuesday, but more worryingly for the soccer-mad public in Brazil, also threatens the much-fancied national side’s build-up to the World Cup, starting in Russia on June 14.

Lasmar, who will lead the surgery at a hospital in Belo Horizonte, said there is no quick fix for the striker.

“It’s not a simple fracture, but a fracture in an important bone in the middle of the foot,” Lasmar said.

At the Mater Dei de Belo Horizonte hospital, an entire wing has been reserved for Neymar and his entourage, and staff have been warned to uphold the facility’s policy regarding confidentiality, said GloboEsporte.

The initial assessment did not appear as serious on Sunday last week, when Neymar was reported to have suffered a hairline fracture of the fifth metatarsal, as well as a twisted ankle late in PSG’s 3-0 win over Olympique de Marseille in Ligue 1.

Neymar’s father had predicted “at least six weeks” out, while PSG coach Unai Emery even said there remained a “small chance” of getting him back in time to face Real Madrid.

However, Lasmar’s assessment painted a graver picture.

“Yesterday we went back to the hospital [in Paris] and made new exams that left the seriousness of the fracture very clear,” he said.

“There was no doubt left regarding the treatment. We were unanimous in agreeing that it would have to be surgical treatment. More conservative treatment, without surgery, would present a far greater risk for refracture. We can’t run that risk,” he added.

The drama is a big personal setback for Neymar, who has been at the center of the world’s soccer attention since his 222 million euros (US$272 million) move from Barcelona in August last year.

He has scored 28 goals in 30 appearances in all competitions for PSG since arriving, but on Sunday he looked to be in tears as he was stretchered off the field at the Parc des Princes.

PSG lost 3-1 to Real Madrid in the first leg of their European tie in Spain two weeks ago and are in danger of being knocked out of the competition in the last 16 for the second season running.

Brazilians’ attention is entirely trained on the World Cup, where they have ambitions of walking away with a sixth title after the humiliation of crashing out 7-1 to Germany in the 2014 semi-finals on home soil — a match Neymar missed after picking up an injury in the last eight against Colombia.

Even if Neymar gets back in time, he appears sure to miss two warm-up friendlies against Russia and Germany in March.

“Brazilians have high hopes for the World Cup with him and many are afraid he won’t be able to take part,” fan Gabriel Tavares Barreto said. “I think he’ll recover in time... but that’s what Brazilians are worrying about.”

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