Neymar misses the remainder of the season | Sports

On February 19, during a Ligue 1 game against Lille, Neymar’s right ankle was bent and broken. It was not the first time. The bones and ligaments in Neymar’s ankles have been alternately torn nine times since 2014, the latest being the most grim. At 31 years old, the sporting lifetime of the most brilliant Brazilian soccer player he has given this century seems to be declining. Paris Saint-Germain announced this Monday, in a statement, that Neymar will miss the remainder of the season. They will operate on him in Doha, at the Aspetar clinic, in the hope of rehabilitating what appears to be a chronic ailment in the most sensitive — and profitable — part of the footballer’s body: the ankles and toes.

“Neymar has presented many episodes of instability in his right ankle over the last few years,” the official statement said. “After his last sprain, the PSG medical team has jointly recommended a ligament repair operation, in order to avoid greater risks of recurrence. The return of the player to collective training is expected in a period of between three and four months.

Brittle ankles have precipitated the end of many soccer careers. Neymar’s has passed between potholes. Generally coinciding with the European winter, the eve of decisive Champions League matches, PSG’s existential objective. The French club, which in 2017 paid 222 million euros for the transfer of the Barcelona player – the figure constitutes a world record unbeaten in the history of the transfer market – has only been able to field him without impediments in three of the six Champions League qualifiers played since his arrival in Paris.

In 2018, a metatarsal fracture prevented him from playing in the round of 16 second leg with Madrid. In 2019, the fracture of the same metatarsal kept him from the round of 16 first leg against United. In 2022, an ankle injury hampered him to play the second leg of the round of 16 against Madrid. On all three occasions PSG was eliminated from the competition.

Neymar, at the time of his injury in the match against Lille.
Neymar, at the time of his injury in the match against Lille.SARAH MEYSSONNIER (REUTERS)

No one at PSG questions Neymar’s potential, even without being physically at his best. Christophe Galtier, the coach, considered the idea of ​​giving him minutes in the second leg of the round of 16 against Bayern, this Wednesday, until the doctors persuaded him that there was no point in risking an irreversible injury.

Neymar’s loss forces the coach to rethink tactics. The 3-5-2 that he displayed against Nantes in the last Ligue 1 game, with Messi and Mbappé in the lead, gives birth to a model more designed to counterattack than to dominate.

The bad news accumulates for the Parisian club, which will be without one of its star players for the rest of the season. This Wednesday, PSG visits Bayern Munich for the second leg of the Champions League round of 16. Neymar’s injury also joins the news of Achraf Hakimi’s alleged involvement in a rape, for which he was charged last Friday.

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