Paris Saint-Germain have confirmed Neymar will not face former club Barcelona in the Champions League on Wednesday after deciding to take no risks with the Brazilian’s fitness as he works his way back from an adductor injury.
The 29-year-old forward has been out of action since picking up a knock in a French Cup clash with Caen on February 10.
It had been suggested that a return to action could be made against Barcelona in the last 16 of the Champions League, as he is back in light training, but Mauricio Pochettino will not be calling upon the South American at Parc des Princes.
What has been said?
PSG have stated in a team news update ahead of the meeting with Barcelona: “Sergio Rico is not participating in training this morning for personal reasons.
“Neymar JR resumed partial training with the squad last week and will continue his individual recovery work. A new assessment will be made in the coming days.
“Juan Bernat continues his rehabilitation and his personal recovery.
“Moise Kean is still in isolation due to Covid-19.”
Pochettino added on Neymar at his pre-match press conference: “It's not a decision, it's reality. Neymar's state of fitness does not allow him to be on the pitch tomorrow.
“He has worked hard to get back into shape as soon as possible for the team. The medical staff also worked a lot to get him back, we are sad because we were all excited for him to play this game.
“It's a special moment for him. He expected to have recovered for this meeting, but he was missing a few days.”
How many games has Neymar missed?
PSG have been without Neymar for six games. Having seen a talismanic figure laid low, they have taken in four Ligue 1 fixtures, a Champions League outing and another French Cup tie during the Brazil international’s enforced absence.
They have fared admirably in those contests, emerging victorious in five and suffering a solitary setback against Monaco.
The bigger picture
Pochettino finds himself in the enviable position of not having to rush Neymar back into his side, particularly in European competition.
PSG will need no reminding that they have suffered a dramatic continental collapse against Barcelona in the past, but they have no intention of allowing history to repeat itself.
An eye-catching performance during an initial meeting with the Blaugrana at Camp Nou has the French heavyweights boasting a 4-1 aggregate advantage.
Kylian Mbappe netted a stunning hat-trick in Catalunya, meaning that PSG have one foot in the quarter-finals and can afford to tinker with their tactical approach.