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Paris Saint-Germain and Brazil forward Neymar has said he is feeling “afraid” ahead of his return from injury and the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The forward has been out of action since February after having surgery on an injured foot, but it’s expected he will be ready to feature in Brazil’s preparations for the upcoming tournament in Russia.
Speaking to Jornal Nacional (h/t AS, via Football Espana) about his comeback, Neymar admitted he’s a little nervous about what’s set to be a crucial few months in his career.
“I want to lose this fear as quickly as possible so I can make the World Cup,” said the PSG star. “People have always been cheerful during my stay in Brazil and this has helped me on a daily basis, with the tension, but I can’t stop a million things from happening in my head and yes, I’m afraid!”
Neymar conceded the injury has left him in a “difficult moment,” and he said, “nobody is more anxious than me and nobody is more afraid than me.”
As relayed by the Selecao Brasileira Twitter account, Neymar is expected to play in Brazil’s friendly against Croatia on June 3:
Seleção Brasileira @BrazilStat
NOTE – #Brazil’s medical team has already OFFICIALLY confirmed that #Neymar will be available for the first friendly vs Croatia on June 3 at Anfield. His World Cup participation is not in jeopardy. https://t.co/HVsYzosQ4g
Returning from a long layoff will be a challenge for the forward, as he’ll have to get back up to speed quickly if he is to shine on the biggest stage in the sport. But given his age, talent and determination, you would back him to do so.
Neymar can also be content with how his first season went at PSG. Having moved from Barcelona to Paris for a world-record fee, he showed no signs of feeling the pressure, quickly settling into life in the French capital and often looking a cut above any player in the league.
DANTE FERNANDEZ/Getty Images
With that in mind, it’s no surprise he was named as the best player in Ligue 1 for the 2017-18 season.
As noted by Goal, he was exceptional when he was on the field:
Neymar’s 2017-18 Ligue 1 stats:
🏆 Player of the Year https://t.co/x5xThd6SPR
For Brazil, the forward tends to bring his best. He has played 85 times for his country and netted 53 goals. At the previous World Cup, he shone for Brazil before a back injury ruled him out of the semi-final clash with Germany, which the Selecao lost 7-1.
Neymar was a key figure in Brazil’s qualifying campaign for the 2018 edition, as they put together a brilliant run to become the first team to book their place in Russia. Tite has a high-class squad at his disposal and will be hoping a fully fit Neymar can provide the stardust needed to win the tournament.