Brazilian forward Neymar will miss up to 10 weeks with an injured right foot, meaning that he will miss Paris Saint-Germain’s matches against Manchester United in the Champions League round of 16.
PSG is headed to Manchester on Feb. 12, then hosts the Red Devils on March 6 in the return leg of the two-match tie.
Déjà Vu for Neymar
PSG announced that the injury had been suffered last Wednesday during a French Cup match with Strasbourg.
“After detailed analysis by the specialists, a consensus was reached of a conservative treatment of Neymar Jr.’s injury to the fifth right metatarsal,” the club said in a statement. “As a result, Neymar Jr. is expected to return to the field within 10 weeks.”
The injury comes almost exactly a year after Neymar suffered a similar injury to the same metatarsal, requiring surgery and threatening his participation in last year’s World Cup – though he did ultimately star for Brazil in the tournament.
This time around, the determination was made that surgery wasn’t necessary. Had Neymar undergone the procedure, it would have likely ended his season.
PSG Champions League Chances in Jeopardy
The injury to Neymar isn’t likely to have much impact on PSG’s domestic season. The club is dominating Ligue 1, currently sitting 13 points ahead of their nearest competitors with two games in hand. The disparity in talent between PSG and their rivals is just as big as their lead, which is why William Hill is offering comical 1/1,000 odds on the Parisian side to win the league title for the sixth time in seven years.
But PSG doesn’t enjoy that same advantage when it comes to Champions League play. There, the loss of Neymar could prove decisive when the club has to go toe-to-toe with the best teams in Europe. While the club should still have enough to get past Manchester United, the team’s own timeline suggests that Neymar may not be back until the second leg of the Champions League quarterfinal in April.
But even the Manchester United match may prove to be more of a challenge than expected. The team is undefeated since firing manager Jose Mourinho and installing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as the interim boss, winning eight games in a row before drawing their Tuesday match with Burnley.
Currently, PSG is still regarded as one of the tournament favorites, with William Hill giving the club 15/2 odds of winning the Champions League. That puts the French side just behind Manchester City (11/4), Barcelona (4/1), and Juventus (6/1).
Health Issues Mounting for Neymar
The repeated injuries to Neymar – who is frequently the target of physical play by opponents – could also threaten to derail the career of the Brazilian superstar. The 26-year-old already missed part of the 2014 World Cup due to injury, though he has found plenty of success as well, winning a gold medal with his country at the 2016 Olympics and earning a Champions League title with Barcelona in the 2014-15 season.
Since joining PSG in 2017, Neymar has scored 32 goals in 33 appearances. He also has 60 goals in 96 international games for Brazil, making him the third highest goal scorer in the country’s history, behind only Pele and Ronaldo.