Brazil forward Neymar will not recover from knee surgery in time to play at next year’s Copa America, national team doctor Rodrigo Lasmar said on Tuesday. The 31-year-old Al Hilal star ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and meniscus in his left knee during Brazil’s 2-0 World Cup qualifier defeat to Uruguay on October 17 and underwent surgery two weeks later. The Copa America, which runs from June 20 to July 14, is eight months away at the time of the injury, and the standard recovery period for an ACL is between eight and ten months.
It is the latest setback for the Brazil captain, who has struggled with injuries since leaving Barcelona to join Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) in 2017. The Brazilian superstar has had a series of knee problems over the last three years and has been unable to reach the full potential of his move to the French capital. The world’s most expensive player is expected to return to action in August at the earliest. Still, even then, the PSG bosses do not plan to take any shortcuts in the recovery process for their star to make the trip to the United States.
Lasmar told radio station Rádio 98 that the ACL recovery is a long process, and they do not intend to take any shortcuts to have him fit for the tournament. “We will do everything possible to make him available, but he has to come through the normal path of healing,” the doctor added.
The ACL injury comes at the wrong time for the Selecao, who are top of their group in the South American qualifying tournament and face Colombia, Paraguay, and the Costa Rica/Honduras winner in the first round of the Copa. Manager Tite was already concerned about the absence of the injured winger and right-back Danilo when he named his squad on Sunday.
Brazil has been drawn in Group D for the competition, and a successful recovery for Neymar is critical to their hopes of reaching the finals in New York. The Selecao currently have a good supply of attacking options, with Vinicius Jr, Lucas Paqueta, Gabriel Jesus, Rodrygo, and Richarlison all in the squad.
The latest blow for the four-time world champions will add further pressure to their already sluggish start to the season. The world’s biggest soccer market is struggling, and inflation is at a record high, meaning clubs have to shell out more to attract players. The transfer ban imposed by FIFA on clubs from Russia and Qatar has pushed the cost of transfers, and a growing number of fans are losing interest in the sport. The dwindling attendance at stadiums is leading to a decline in sponsorship revenues, and, as a result, there are fears the future of football in the region is in danger. This has been exacerbated by the widespread allegations of match-fixing and corruption rocking the sport.