PSG’s Unai Emery won’t rule out Neymar return this season
PARIS — Paris Saint-Germain coach Unai Emery would not confirm that Neymar’s club season is over after the decision was taken to operate on the Brazilian superstar’s foot after a right ankle sprain and a fracture of his fifth metatarsal.
The French capital outfit confirmed shortly before Wednesday’s 3-0 Coupe de France quarterfinal win over rivals Marseille that Neymar will undergo surgery in Brazil this Saturday, effectively ruling him out for next Tuesday’s Champions League round-of-16 second leg with Real Madrid.
PSG did not confirm how long Neymar is expected to be sidelined for, but the Brazil national team’s doctor said the typical recovery time for the procedure is “between two-and-a-half and three months.”
Emery tempered assumptions that Neymar’s club season is over with the World Cup in Russia coming up this summer and said in a news conference ahead of Saturday’s Ligue 1 clash away at Troyes that Les Parisiens are uncertain exactly for how long they will be without their No. 10.
“Neymar is an important player, but we will have to do without him for a while,” the Spaniard told journalists at Camp des Loges on Friday. “We will wait to know exactly how long he will be unavailable.”
Because of Neymar’s injury, the past few days in Paris have been wild — to say the least — and Emery admitted that he has not enjoyed the hysteria that has surrounded the unfortunate event and speculation that PSG have been pushed around by Brazil.
“Is there a dispute with the Brazilian federation? No. Like I said, our relationship with them and our communication together has been good,” Emery said. “We have all spoken together, including Neymar himself.
“When I arrived [at PSG], I was warned about what goes on outside the club and about the entourages. Many things that are said are not true. We are not going to spend our time confirming or denying every single little thing that comes out. On the inside, we are together, we are strong.
“PSG creates a lot of talk and that is normal. This is a massive club. Internally, we speak often, [sporting director] Antero [Henrique], the president [CEO and chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi], and I — we know to stay together.
Emery sympathised with Neymar’s situation and revealed that he suffered a fractured metatarsal as a player, so he knows how frustrating the wait to recover is. He also rejected the idea that PSG lost control of the situation in a communicative sense.
“The decision has been made, and that is that,” Emery said. “I saw the scans. I saw everything related to the fifth metatarsal. I have suffered this injury before, so I know all about it. Recovery takes time and there is a process.
“A loss of communicative control? Look, it is an injury that could have happened to any player. When it is Neymar, or something related to him, it creates a lot of debate. We did things in the right order, with our doctor, with the Brazil national team doctor and our sporting director.”
Despite the disappointment of Neymar’s injury, Emery remains optimistic ahead of next week’s Parc des Princes showdown with Real.
“We are approaching the Real match with optimism and confidence,” said Emery. “Everybody in the footballing world will watch this game. I know that it can be done [overcoming first leg deficit to advance].”
Emery revealed that Marquinhos, Alphonse Areola and Kylian Mbappe could all miss Troyes away this weekend in order to be fit for Real.
“We will wait until the final training session to see how Marquinhos, Alphonse and Kylian are feeling,” Emery said. “We will see if they are 100 percent or not.”
“The most important thing is to have as many players well and ready as possible. Thiago [Motta]’s return has been good news. Lassana [Diarra] came to help us. The best thing to prepare is difficult matches.
Angel Di Maria is likely to replace Neymar in Emery’s starting XI, but the former Sevilla boss is keeping his cards close to his chest ahead of next week.
“Angel? He can play right or left,” said Emery. “He is very experienced. He is important.
“Do I know my XI? I will think about that more on Saturday. Troyes will provide important information. I want as many players fit and ready for Real next Tuesday as possible.”
Jonathan Johnson covers PSG and the French national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @Jon_LeGossip.