World Cup 2022: Why Isn’t Neymar Playing for Brazil?

Part of the appeal of the World Cup is seeing the best players in soccer suiting up for their country. And while he might not be everyone’s cup of tea, Neymar is certainly a global star. The Brazilian is worth watching every time he touches the ball due to his sheer talent and audacious skill.

There’s one problem, though. The PSG man won’t be suiting up for Brazil’s second or third group-stage game. Beyond that, we’ll have to see what happens.

So, what’s to blame for that unfortunate reality? In soccer, as with every sport, injuries are the great leveler.

Neymar suffered an ankle injury against Serbia, which will keep him out of at least some World Cup action

While Neymar has developed a reputation as something of a diver, the Brazilian star does absorb more than his fair share of punishment. Take his outing against Serbia as an example of that.

The midfielder left the pitch around the 80th minute. He appeared to be in noticeable pain, and when he reached the bench, things seemed to get emotional. That, combined with some Twitter images of a rapidly swelling ankle, had soccer fans fearing the worst.

After the match, Brazil’s doctor shared the extent of the damage.

“The scans showed a lateral ligament injury to Neymar’s right ankle along with a small bone swelling,” Rodrigo Lasmar explained, according to CNN. He had previously said that the PSG star sprained his ankle.

Neymar, for his part, took to Instagram to share his perspective (translation courtesy of CNN).

“Today has become one of the hardest moments in my career… and again in a World Cup.”

“I have an injury, yes, it’s bad, it’s going to hurt, but I’m sure I’ll have the chance to come back because I’ll do my best to help my country, my teammates and myself.

“A long time waiting for the enemy to knock me down like this? NEVER!”

Neymar on Instagram

And there you have it, straight from the man himself.

When will Neymar return from his injury?

Brazilian star Neymar holds his injured ankle.
Neymar suffered an ankle injury against Serbia. | Markus Gilliar – GES Sportfoto/Getty Images)
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That’s the million-dollar question, isn’t it? While Neymar alluded to having the chance to return to the pitch, it’s not clear when that will happen. Based on his style of play and the challenges he endures, the midfielder won’t be able to play with a balky ankle. And sprains can be tricky injuries, taking their time to heal.

With that being said, though, both Lasmar and manager Tite sounded optimistic that we’ll see Neymar again in Qatar.

“[Neymar and Danilo] remain in treatment. It is very important for us to be very calm, peaceful, this assessment will be carried out daily so that we have information and make the best decisions based on that,” the team doctor explained. “We can already say that we will not have the two players for our next game [against Switzerland on Monday, November 28], but they remain in treatment with our objective of trying to recover in time for this competition.”

Tite shared a similar sentiment, albeit from a managerial rather than a medical perspective.

“I believe that Neymar and Danilo will play the World Cup,” the manager said (h/t ESPN). “I believe in that. Medically, clinically, they can talk more about the stages of the treatment. [But] I have no place to talk. I trust that we will be able to use both of them.”

And while those rooting against Brazil will be hoping that Neymar takes his time recovering, everyone supporting the Seleção (plus the neutrals) will be hoping we see him return to the pitch as soon as he’s able to. Whether you love him or hate him, the midfielder is certainly a world-class star.