Neymar injured his ankle against Marseille just nine days before a crucial Champions League match against Real Madrid. (Getty)
Neymar has suffered a sprained ankle and a fractured fifth metatarsal in his right foot, and will almost certainly miss PSG’s Champions League round of 16 second leg against Real Madrid.
The PSG star sustained the damage in a 3-0 win over Marseille on Sunday, and was reportedly set to miss three weeks. But in addition to the ankle sprain, PSG announced that he has suffered further damage.
In non-technical terms, a fractured fifth metatarsal is a small break of a long bone in the foot. PSG did not announce a timetable for Neymar’s recovery, but it will surely rule him out for weeks, if not months.
[More: Could fractured metatarsal jeopardize Neymar’s World Cup?]
The Brazilian forward, chasing an opponent, planted his right foot awkwardly and immediately crumpled to the turf with around 14 minutes remaining.
Replays showed that the ankle rolled and hyperextended to the outside. (The fifth metatarsal is the furthest of the five to the outside of the foot.)
After roughly three minutes of treatment, Neymar, in agony and at times tears, was stretchered off the pitch. PSG, having already used all three subs, was forced to play a man down for the final 10 minutes.
The injury didn’t matter on the day. PSG had already secured a victory that took it 14 points clear at the top of Ligue 1.
But it could be a crushing blow going forward. Neymar had just nine days to recover for the second leg against Madrid on March 6. It appears he won’t be able to do so – and if he does, he’ll be putting his long-term health at risk.
The Parisians carry a 3-1 deficit into the home leg. They therefore must win 2-0 or by at least three goals to avoid elimination. Without Neymar, that will become a significantly more difficult task.
The Brazilian has tallied 26 goals and 16 assists in all competitions in his first season in the French capital. Even against tougher competition in the Champions League, he’s scored six and set up three in seven games. He’s been nothing short of dominant, the creative force behind almost everything PSG does going forward.
Showdowns like the one against Madrid are the reason he came to Paris — and the reason PSG paid hundreds of millions of dollars to sign him from Barcelona. To miss the biggest match of the season will be a massive disappointment.
The injury should not affect Neymar’s availability for the World Cup. But there is a chance it could harm his effectiveness.
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Henry Bushnell covers global soccer, and occasionally other ball games, for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Question? Comment? Email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @HenryBushnell.