Football

Neymar's injury worse than feared

PSG star out for at least six weeks, says father; but PSG coach insists player has slim chance of facing Real

Paris Saint-Germain striker Neymar faces "at least six weeks out" with a fractured bone in his foot and will miss next week’s return leg of the Champions League last-16 tie against Real Madrid, his father said yesterday.

“PSG know that they will not be able to count on Neymar for the upcoming matches: his treatment will last six to eight weeks, whether there is an operation or not,” Neymar senior told ESPN Brasil.

However, the Brazilian superstar still has a "small chance" of playing against Real Madrid in the Champions League next week as he won't undergo an operation on the fractured metatarsal, said PSG coach Unai Emery yesterday.

"For Neymar, there has been no decision to have an operation," said Emery, denying an earlier report in the Brazilian press that the world's most expensive player would go under the knife to fix the cracked bone.

"Neymar is the first to want to play every match, he's very focused on Real.There's a small chance that he'll be ready for the match."

PSG, who host Real next Wednesday morning (Singapore time), lost the first leg 3-1 in Spain last week.

He is almost certainly out of the French Cup quarter-final against Marseille tomorrow morning (Singapore time) and the weekend's Ligue 1 visit to Troyes, which comes three days before the Real clash.

Metatarsal injuries usually take weeks, if not months to recover from.

Neymar is the first to want to play every match, he's very focused on Real. There's a small chance that he'll be ready for the match. Paris Saint-Germain coach Unai Emery

Just last year, Neymar's international teammate Gabriel Jesus was out of action for two months after breaking a metatarsal with Manchester City, and has struggled with further injuries since.

Former England stars David Beckham and Wayne Rooney spent six weeks on the sidelines with metatarsal injuries in the past, with both still arguably being rushed back too soon for the 2002 and 2006 World Cups respectively.

Brazil fans will also be keeping a close eye on Neymar's fitness, especially after he missed their 2014 World Cup semi-final thrashing by Germany with injury.

PSG, who lead the French top flight by a massive 14 points, also said that Brazilian centre-back Marquinhos had picked up a leg muscle problem.

Neymar was stretchered off in anguish towards the end of PSG's 3-0 victory over Marseille, having innocuously rolled his right ankle and flopped to the ground in pain.

With the game already as good as over, the stadium held its breath as he was treated and then carried away, with PSG forced to finish the match with 10 men having made all of their substitutions.

Neymar posted a picture on Instagram of his right leg with the ankle and foot heavily bandaged, before later appearing to delete the post.

"08:10. Finished for today," said the caption.

Despite the injury potentially benefiting Real, the Spanish side's coach Zinedine Zidane claimed he hoped Neymar would recover in time to play.

"I'm not happy with the Neymar injury and I hope he can be back for the game. I will never want a rival player to be out injured," Zidane said.

PSG's hopes of keeping their European dream alive are hanging by a thread, despite the continued presence up front of Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe.

The French side were knocked out at last season's Round of 16, where they were thrashed 6-1 in the second leg by a Neymar-inspired Barcelona, after winning the first leg 4-0. - AFP

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