French club Paris Saint-Germain made Brazilian star Neymar the most expensive player in soccer history last year, paying $263 million to pry him away from Barcelona and then giving him a $53 million annual salary. For all that, they perhaps got less than four months from him.
Brazilian outlet Globo Esporte is reporting that Neymar will need foot surgery after he suffered a crack in his fifth metatarsal Sunday against Marseille, sidelining him for three months. PSG Manager Unai Emery denied that report Tuesday, however, saying that nothing has been decided.
“It is false [reports that Neymar is to undergo surgery],” Emery said, per ESPN. “No decision to operate has been taken. I have met with the doctor, and he told me that the sprain was swollen. His fifth metatarsal has a crack in it.
“We will take a decision in the coming days. However, for the moment, calm is needed.”
Should Neymar require surgery, the 26-year-old forward seems likely to miss most if not all of PSG’s 11 remaining Ligue 1 matches — the season finale is May 19 — along with the March 6 second leg of its Champions League round-of-16 matchup with Real Madrid, which won the first meeting, 3-1 (Emery said there was a “small possibility” Neymar could be back by then). PSG spent big on Neymar in part because of its Champions League failures: It hasn’t advanced past the quarterfinals in each of the past five seasons.
The injuries — Neymar also sprained his ankle — also will keep him off the pitch until about a month before this year’s World Cup in Russia. Brazil’s first Group E match is June 17 against Switzerland.
PSG is 14 points clear of second-place AS Monaco atop the Ligue 1 standings and could have its fifth title in six years wrapped up well before Neymar’s potential return. The team is also in the running for its fourth straight French Cup title; its first match without Neymar is Wednesday’s quarterfinal against Marseille.
Injuries to the metatarsals — the long bones in the foot — have befallen some of soccer’s biggest names in the past, and recovery times have varied. Lionel Messi broke the fifth metatarsal in his left foot during a match for Barcelona in 2006; he missed three months. But David Beckham needed only seven weeks to recover from a similar injury while playing for Manchester United in 2002.
Neymar has 19 Ligue 1 goals this season, second on the team behind Edinson Cavani.
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