Neymar is doubtful for next month’s Champions League clash against Manchester United after Paris St Germain confirmed the forward has injured a metatarsal in his right foot during their 2-0 French Cup win over Strasbourg on Wednesday. Neymar, 26, left the pitch after twisting his foot and the club said initial examinations revealed a “reactivation of the lesion of the fifth right metatarsal”, adding that treatment would depend on how the injury heals in the next few days.
The Brazilian had fractured the same metatarsal last February and required surgery that effectively ended his club campaign. He returned to action in May, in time for the World Cup in Russia.
“Neymar is worried, because it’s the same foot, the right foot, in the same area,” PSG manager Thomas Tuchel told reporters. Tuchel criticised the referee for not protecting the Brazilian when Strasbourg’s players tackled him forcefully. “The referee didn’t whistle on one occasion, then two, then three and after that he ended up twisting his foot,” he added.
PSG face United at Old Trafford for the first leg of the Champions League last 16 clash on February 12. Neymar was repeatedly fouled, his usual treatment in domestic games, and he responded with an overhead flick, the kind of reply that often triggers angry reactions from his opponents.
“It’s Neymar’s style, but don’t come and complain when you get kicked,” said Strasbourg midfielder Anthony Goncalves. “He is a great player, I respect him. He can enjoy himself but don’t come blubbering afterwards.”
“I don’t think I asked my players to kick him, but you have to understand that there comes a point when my players have had enough of someone who is trying to taunt them, to tease them,” Strasbourg coach Thierry Laurey said. PSG, who hold a 13-point lead in Ligue 1 with 53 points from 19 games, return to league action on Sunday when they host Rennes.
“The referee didn’t whistle on one occasion, then two, then three and after that he ended up twisting his foot,” Tuchel said.
But interviewed after the match by broadcaster Eurosport, Goncalves expressed no sympathy for Neymar and even suggested the injury is a direct result of how he plays.
“It’s his style. But if you play like that don’t complain if you take some knocks after,” Goncalves said. “He’s a great player, and I respect the player he is, but we’re not here so he has fun at our expense. We’re not here to make him look good.”
Goncalves suggested Neymar, who has a tendency to showboat and even toy with opposing players with his superior level of skill, lacks humility.
“If he wants to have fun, we’ll respond with the weapons we have. We have a jersey to defend. We’re not here for a laugh,” Goncalves said. “He can amuse himself, that’s his style and I think people come to watch that. But he shouldn’t come and moan about it afterward….”
Strasbourg coach Thierry Laurey also said Neymar’s attitude is all wrong.
“Sometimes when you’ve gone too far, you have to face up to it,” Laurey said. “I can understand my players having enough of players who are looking to tease them, mock them. It’s right that after a while it also catches up with him. I’m all for protecting players, but there are limits. When you make a pass that comes off your back, you’re mocking a bit.”
Strasbourg defender Pablo Martinez added: “Of course he’s a marvelous player, but because of his attitude he’s not someone I like on the pitch. Apart from teasing you, he talks to you badly.”
PSG is already sweating on the fitness of key midfielder Marco Verratti after he sprained his ankle last weekend.
Two months ago, Neymar was substituted with a groin injury during the first half of Brazil’s friendly against Cameroon on Nov. 20.