Will Neymar play at the Copa America? Latest on Brazil star’s injury recovery before USA 2024 tournament

Brazilian superstar Neymar ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and meniscus in his left knee back in October while playing for his national side in their 2026 World Cup qualifier.

The Al Hilal forward had only just completed a move to the Saudi Pro League from PSG when he suffered the injury and has yet to return to action.

With the Copa America tournament rapidly approaching, The Sporting News takes a look at whether it will be too soon for Neymar to compete for his national side. 

MORE: Copa America 2024 schedule

Will Neymar play for Brazil at the Copa America?

Neymar is set to sit out the 2024 Copa America in the United States because of a significant knee injury sustained in October, as confirmed in December by Brazilian team physician Dr. Rodrigo Lasmar.

“It’s too early,” Lasmar said when asked if Neymar would be able to compete in the summer tournament. 

“There’s no point in skipping steps to recover sooner and taking unnecessary risks. Our expectation is that he will be prepared to return at the start of the 2024 season in Europe, which is August.

“We need to be patient. Talking about a return before nine months is premature, this is a global concept for knee-ligament surgeries recovery. It is very important to respect the biological time, the time the body takes to reconstruct that ligament.

“If we follow those steps and after a long recovery, the expectation is that he can perform again at a high level,” he added.

How did Neymar get injured?

Neymar tussled with River Plate midfielder Nicolas de la Cruz during the first half of the 2026 World Cup qualifier between Uruguay and Brazil.

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No foul was awarded against De La Cruz, but Neymar appeared to overextend his knee in the incident as he looked to maintain his balance while hip-to-hip with his opponent.

The former Paris Saint-Germain star immediately signaled to the Brazil bench for medical assistance and appeared to be in clear pain.

After a lengthy stoppage, Neymar was helped onto a stretcher in clear distress and was later shown leaving the Estadio Centenario on crutches.

Neymar’s club Al Hilal confirmed the day after the match that he had suffered a torn ACL and meniscus in his left knee and would miss considerable time.

Neymar stats 2023/24 for Al Hilal, Brazil

Despite his Al Hilal career being delayed, Neymar made three Saudi Pro League and two AFC Champions League appearances, with his sole goal coming in the latter.

He scored twice in Brazil’s September win over Bolivia to overtake Pele as the nation’s all-time leading goal scorer with 79 goals, and he started the following three games in World Cup qualification.


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