Brazil holds its breath as Neymar goes for op

Some fear their World Cup hopes are gone, others believe the star will benefit from the three-month rest

Brazilian football star Neymar will undergo surgery today (March 3) to fix a broken bone in his right foot that has put a hole in Paris Saint-Germain’s season and given Brazil the jitters, with about 100 days to go before the World Cup. Here’s what we know so far.

What happened? 

Neymar – transferred from Barcelona to PSG last August for a record 222 million-euros (S$360.9m) – broke his foot while playing in a 3-0 win over Marseille on Feb 25.

The bone in question is the fifth metatarsal, a long bone connecting to the little toe.

On Thursday, Neymar flew home with Brazilian national team surgeon Rodrigo Lasmar, who will operate on him.

What’s the operation? 

Lasmar will lead the procedure at the Mater Dei hospital in Belo Horizonte today (March 3).

Jose Luiz Runco, a former chief medical officer for the Brazilian team, tells AFP that the surgery “is not difficult”.

“It should take about an hour, or 90 minutes maximum,” he said. “The idea is to fix the fracture so that it won’t be compromised in future. They could put plates and screws, or just a screw.”

Staff at the Belo Horizonte facility have been asked not to turn on their cellphones anywhere near the star.

Not that Neymar’s exactly publicity shy – he posted pictures of himself cuddling with his actress girlfriend on Friday.

When will he play?

For PSG, the broken bone means saying goodbye to their prize player for the crucial Champions League match against Real Madrid on Wednesday morning (Singapore time).

For Brazil, where Neymar is also seen as a key match winner, the concern is to get him playing before the World Cup in Russia, which starts in June.

Lasmar says the recovery period will last two-and-a-half to three months. That means Neymar missing two friendlies and a lot of other preparation before a tournament where Brazil, as ever, is seen as a favorite.

Some in Brazil already fear their campaign is doomed.

However, medical experts say the picture may be brighter, given that Neymar should have just enough time to get back in shape, while also being fully rested.

“When you think how exhausting the European season is, he could even arrive fresher than the others,” said Cristiano Nunes, the physio for Brazilian first division club Internacional in Porto Alegre.

Runco says Neymar will be able to walk with crutches after two to three weeks, exercise while putting weight on his repaired foot after about 60 to 75 days, and then returning to training.

“He’s likely to recover pretty quickly because he’s an athlete and young.” - AFP