The sense of panic among the five-time world champions grew this weekend when the forward admitted that he is still not feeling 100% with the tournament now just over two weeks away
Egypt aren’t the only country heading to the 2018 World Cup in Russia sweating over the fitness of their best player and talisman.
Brazil are also sweating as Neymar continues his recovery from a foot injury. And the sense of panic among the five-time world champions grew this weekend when the Paris Saint-Germainforward admitted that he is still not feeling 100% with the tournament now just over two weeks away.
“Physically I am well, my foot is fine. I am adapting in a few things. I still feel some discomfort, but it is not something that will trouble me,” the 26-year-old told journalists at Brazil’s football confederation headquarters in Rio de Janeiro.
Asked how well he was feeling now, Neymar answered: “Not 100 percent yet. But that comes with time. It is normal that I have this fear of making complete movements. Let’s take it easy, there are still many days until the (World Cup) opener and I will be 100 percent then.”
Neymar has not played a match since February but hopes to be on the pitch again in Brazil’s friendly against Croatia on June 3 in Liverpool.
“I am ready to play, there is nothing that can stop me,” he said. “What I feel today is this fear because I am coming back now.”
The Brazilian was forced to leave the 2014 World Cup with a vertebral fracture in the 2-1 victory against Colombia in the quarterfinals.
“I hope that dream is not interrupted once more and that it is consolidated with a title for us,” Neymar said.
During the week in the Granja Comary training camp in Teresopolis, outside Rio, Neymar continued his recovery — dribbling and passing at high speed. Members of Brazil’s coaching staff have tried to reduce pressure on the star by saying it would take time until he delivered his best performances.
Brazil’s 20-man squad will fly to London later Sunday to continue its World Cup preparations.
Neymar also dismissed rumours he could leave Paris Saint-Germain.
Asked about rumors linking him to Real Madrid, he answered: “My focus is Brazil, people are saying nonsense and that is not worth answering.”
Champions League winners Casemiro and Marcelo of Real Madrid and runner-up Roberto Firmino of Liverpool will join the group on Wednesday.
Brazil’s football confederation spokesman Vinicius Rodrigues said coach Tite decided to give the three players more time to rest before they join the squad.
The Brazilian squad is set to arrive at Stansted Airport in England on Monday morning and head straight to Tottenham’s training ground in the north of the city. The team will set up camp there until June 8.