Neymar has 'small chance' to face Real

PARIS • Neymar is facing a race against time to be match fit for the Champions League last-16 return leg against holders Real Madrid, with Paris Saint-Germain manager Unai Emery admitting he has a "small chance" of playing in the showpiece tie next Tuesday.

PSG are hoping to reverse a 1-3 deficit but their chances of a maiden Champions League triumph appeared to suffer a body blow after the French club announced on Monday that Neymar had been diagnosed with a fractured metatarsal.

The forward, who signed for PSG in a world-record €222 million (S$361 million) move from Barcelona last year, was stretchered off during the 3-0 league victory over Marseille on Sunday.

But, having ruled out the possibility of surgery, Emery will give his talisman, with 28 goals in all competitions this term, every opportunity to prove his fitness.

"For Neymar, there has been no decision to have an operation," said a hopeful Emery, denying a report in Brazilian daily Globo Esporte that he would go under the knife to fix the cracked bone in his foot.

"Neymar is the first to want to play every match, he's very focused on Real. There's a small chance that he'll be ready for the match."

The Ligue 1 leaders have not specified how long the 26-year-old, who also suffered a sprained ankle, will be sidelined.

"Examinations performed today confirmed an external sprain of the right ankle, but also an associated fissure of the fifth metatarsal," PSG said in a short statement.

A source close to Neymar told French daily L'Equipe the injury was not as bad as first anticipated.

"It's less serious than we feared, but we must still be patient," the source said.

However, he looks set to miss today's French Cup quarter-final against the same opponents he went off injured against and Saturday's league visit to Troyes, with PSG prepared to wrap him in cotton wool till the visit of Real.

Metatarsal injuries usually take weeks, if not months to recover from and, worryingly for PSG, key defender Marquinhos also picked up a thigh problem against Marseille and is another doubt for the Parc des Princes glamour match.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 28, 2018, with the headline 'Neymar has 'small chance' to face Real'. Print Edition | Subscribe