Brazilian superstar Neymar flew into Rio de Janeiro early Thursday ahead of an operation on his fractured foot that will rule him out for up to three months, casting a long shadow over Paris Saint-Germain and Brazil’s World Cup preparations.
The world’s most expensive player, 26, arrived on an Air France flight from Paris and left in a wheelchair, a photo taken by one of his fellow passengers showed.
Dressed in a black hoodie, a black baseball cap and wearing sunglasses, the PSG star smiled and took selfies with passengers, before leaving on a private jet to an undisclosed destination.
Surgery will take place Saturday, national team surgeon Rodrigo Lasmar said. But despite the hurry to put Neymar under the knife at a hospital in Belo Horizonte, he won’t be back on the field soon.
“The (recovery) period will be around two and a half to three months,” Lasmar, said after arriving with the player on the same Air France plane.
The injury has not only ruled Neymar out of PSG’s do-or-die Champions League clash with Real Madrid but now threatens the much fancied Brazilian national side’s build-up to the World Cup, which starts June 14.
On Tuesday, the Brazilian’s father had claimed the player would be out for “at least six weeks”.
Neymar suffered a hairline fracture of the fifth metatarsal in his right foot as well as a twisted ankle late in PSG’s 3-0 win over Marseille in Ligue 1 on Sunday.
Speaking to ESPN in Brazil before PSG’s announcement, the player’s father, Neymar Senior, said: “PSG know that they will not be able to count on Neymar for the upcoming matches.”
PSG coach Unai Emery had said earlier that there remained a “small chance” of getting him back in time to face Real next Tuesday, March 6. That chance has now gone.