Brazilian star Neymar is set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines after tests confirmed he suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus in his left knee during his country’s World Cup qualifying loss to Uruguay on Tuesday, Brazil’s football confederation (CBF) revealed Wednesday.
The 31-year-old will undergo surgery on a date to be confirmed. Sources told ESPN Brasil the CBF’s medical staff thinks Neymar could play again in eight months and be back in time for the Copa América, which will be contested in the United States next summer.
“Striker Neymar Jr. of the Brazilian team and Al-Hilal, from Saudi Arabia, underwent clinical and imaging tests this Wednesday, which confirmed the rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus in his left knee,” Brazil’s Football Confederation said in a statement.
“The striker will undergo a surgical procedure, on a date yet to be defined, to correct the injuries. The Brazilian National Team’s medical department, under the supervision of Dr. Rodrigo Lasmar, and Al Hilal, are in permanent contact and aligned in the player’s recovery.”
Later on Wednesday, Neymar said in a message on Instagram he feels “strong” but he will need a lot of support to come back from another injury.
“It’s a very sad moment, the worst,” Neymar wrote. “I know I’m strong but this time I’m going to need my family and friends even more. It’s not easy to go through injury and surgery. Imagine going through it all again after 4 months of recovery.”
Al Hilal sent well-wishes to Neymar and posted a photograph on social media of the Brazil star as he was taken away from the pitch with the message, “Get well soon.”
Neymar tripped and fell during a run in the 44th minute of Brazil’s 2-0 loss at the Centenario Stadium and was immediately surrounded by players from both teams as he held his left knee.
The former Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain forward was carried off on a stretcher as he held his hands to his face, while teammate Richarlison replaced him.
Neymar, who is Brazil’s all-time men’s top scorer with 79 goals in 129 appearances, recently recovered from a serious right ankle injury.
He twisted his ankle during a game versus Lille in February, sustaining ligament damage, just three months after he suffered a similar problem at the Qatar World Cup.
It has been a difficult spell for Neymar, who was hit by a bag of popcorn thrown from the stands by supporters after Thursday’s 1-1 home draw with Venezuela.
He later responded to criticism from the media and fans for his under-par performance
“I don’t come here on vacation, much less to go for a walk, I came to do what I love most, which is to play football and defend my country,” he said last week. “Obviously, we are there doing our best, giving our best, and often the result doesn’t come, and it is not what the fans expect.”
Brazil, who are third in South American World Cup qualifying, play at Colombia and at home to Argentina in next month’s qualifiers.
After six years at PSG, Neymar joined Al Hilal in the big-spending Saudi Pro League for a fee of €90 million ($98.6m) in August.