Neymar excluded from PSG-Barcelona Champions League clash with thigh problem
Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar was excluded from Wednesday’s Champions League game against Barcelona after failing to recover from a thigh problem in time.
Neymar, 29, has been sidelined since being injured in the Coupe de France victory over Caen on February 10.
The Brazil international returned to light training a few days ago, but PSG confirmed on Tuesday that this week’s second leg against Barca in the Champions League round of 16 comes too soon.
“It’s not a decision, it’s that Neymar can’t play,” PSG manager Mauricio Pochettino said at his pre-match press conference. “It’s a reality, a fact, not a decision. He is unable to compete at the moment.
“He put in a huge effort to be back for this game, but not just for this game, to be back as soon as possible. He works hard.
“It’s a shame because he was excited to play this game, but he is also excited to play for PSG and help us achieve our goals in all competitions. But he him still need a few days. “
Neymar, who joined PSG from Barca for a world record € 222m in 2017, also missed the first leg at Camp Nou, when Kylian mbappe scored a hat-trick as the French champions won 4-1.
Sources told ESPN that Pochettino was considering adding him to the squad but didn’t want to take any chances, and Neymar agreed with the decision.
Neymar has suffered regular injuries at this point in the season, missing the Champions League eliminations against Real Madrid and Manchester United in 2018 and 2019, respectively, with fitness issues.
However, he was fit for the later stages of last year’s competition, helping PSG reach the final, where they were beaten 1-0 by Bayern Munich.
PSG claim Spanish left-back Bernat “continues his recovery and individual work”, on loan Everton Attacker Kean remains in self-isolation due to COVID-19.
For Barcelona, defender Ronald araujo trained on Tuesday but was not deemed fit to travel to Paris. He remains on a long list of injuries which also includes Gerard pique, Sergi Roberto, Philippe Coutinho and Ansu Fati.
Information from Julien Laurens of ESPN has been included in this report.