It's been a bad stretch for the Brazilian national team, having lost three in a row and fall to sixth place in CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying. I mean this news only gets worse--star forward Neymar Jr. will miss next summer's 2024 Copa America scheduled for American shores.
Brazilian sensation The Al-Hilal forward has been out with a knee injury since September of 2023, and team doctor Rodrigo Lasmar commented on Neymar's recovery while the knock takes about nine months to recover from.
In an interview with Radio 98 FM, Lasmar says: “It's too soon now; from one extreme to another is wrong. Why would we hurry things and risk unnecessary harm? We hope that he can return as early as the beginning of next season (August) in Europe."
Given the ligament damage Neymar suffered and his own injury history, it's difficult to force a 31-year-old back into action as soon he becomes available. It doesn't help matters that Brazil have been struggling without him in successive World Cup qualifiers against Bolivia and Peru either. This news increases the pressure on Real Madrid`s Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo, two players who Brazil will have to depend upon in future when Neymar finally hangs his cleats up.
Their latest blow still has them coached by the interim manager Fernando Diniz, who also happens to be head coach of Brazilian club Fluminense. With no competitive matches before June 2024-a date set only on May 7 this year when they lost their first international match since October in a World Cup warm-up against Panama), there may not even have time
The Neymar era is over: If Brazil is to avoid wasting another generation of talent, the 2026 World Cup must be planned without star-struck Al-Hilal.
It would be foolish to count on the old Selecao attacker, who is now just a physical wreck.
Brazil's 2-0 World Cup qualifying defeat to Uruguay offered a depressingly familiar sight of Neymar being carted off the pitch in tears. Al-Hilal later announced that the 31 year old had sustained a tear to his anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus in his knee, penciling him for surgery. Thankfully Neymar's operation went well, but there is still a long period of rehabilitation ahead. The seasoned striker is unlikely to return to action in Saudi Pro League this term, and experts believe he has no chance of making Brazil's squad for the 2024 Copa America starting June 20.
So worries about his physical condition led Paris Saint-Germain to sell Neymar in the summer. He found the back of the net 118 times in his 178 games for Le Parc, winning five Ligue I titles along with three French Cups and one Champions Trophy. But Mbappe also missed more than 60 matches through injury during this time.
With that dismal fitness record, Fernando Diniz still insists that Neymar has an important role to play for Brazil in the next few years. Speaking at a press conference last week, the interim Selecao boss said: "We hope he makes speedy recovery and gets back into action better than ever." " I believe that he has still not written his most beautiful pages. This incident hasn't made it impossible, just more difficult; but using this injury as a springboard to come back tougher will make him even stronger."
When the next World Cup swings around in Canada, Mexico and the United States, Neymar will be 34. That exquisite trophy of solid gold is one missing from an otherwise gleaming CV, and Brazil won't be able to hold high their sixth world crown if Scolari remains in his starting XI by then.
If Brazil were lacking in attacking firepower, it would make sense to help create an atmosphere conducive for Neymar's international career. Unfortunately they are enjoying a golden age of strikers at the moment and have more young talent than even the most wildly optimistic minds can imagine. The full potential of the former Barcelona superstar will never be realized, but plenty others promise success where he failed. It's time for a cold-blooded choice to stay or go.
Brazil is still far from leaving the past behind, but continously holding on to an iconic figure whose time has clearly passed can only hamper their chances of becoming world's best team again. Neymar has contributed so much to his country, and he boasts an incredible return in international football of 79 goals from 128. He netted the fastest ever goal by a Brazilian, and in doing so passed Pele to become Selecao all-time top scorer with 74 (it should be enough just for that reason alone -- he's already mentioned as one of the great legends).
For one thing, glory in the World Cup and Copa America has proved elusive for Neymar. But he hasn't slacked off either bit around here! At these big tournaments he has netted 13 times and eight assists from a total of 25 outings. Some of the recollections from those performances will live forever. His goal in Brazil's World Cup quarter-final against Croatia in 2014 is not only one of the great ones on that stage but also goes down as a second masterpiece among his own creations.
Since the time he first appeared on our screens against America's as an 18-year old way back in November, 2010 Brazilian fans have been blessed to see Neymar do so many things that make you feel good. If you were to turn and run, they would cheer.
Even so, Neymar has been a good servant-he doesn't want to risk damaging the legacy that his willpower and determination have helped him earn for Brazilian football by continuing make himself available. The time is ripe for Neymar to put an end to his Brazil career and give way for a new generation capable of greater achievement than any team he has been involved with previously.