BRAZIL forward Neymar has been ruled out of the Copa America with an ankle ligament injury picked up during a warm-up fixture.
The 27-year-old suffered the setback in the 20th minute of the Selecao’s 2-0 friendly win over Qatar on Wednesday and had to be helped from the pitch by medical staff. He burst into tears on the sidelines.
Neymar went down in the early stages and was seen immediately grimacing in pain, clutching his foot before being attended to by medics and taken to the sidelines.
Sitting down on the bench, the world’s most expensive footballer could be seen crying and holding his face, as a huge padding of ice was placed on the injured area.
Brazil boss Tite had initially suggested the injury was not a serious one, though Neymar was pictured leaving the stadium wearing a protective boot.
“After suffering a sprain in his right ankle during last Wednesday’s game against Qatar, Neymar was evaluated and subjected to complementary imaging tests that confirmed ligament rupture in the ankle,” read an official Brazil statement.
“Due to the seriousness of the injury, Neymar will not have the physical conditions and sufficient recovery time to participate in the Copa America Brasil 2019.”
The national side have now confirmed that they will immediately search to identify a replacement squad member for Neymar ahead of the competition.
Hosts Brazil kick off the tournament on June 14 against Bolivia, with the final set to be played on July 7 at the Maracana in Rio.
After joining PSG from Barcelona for a world-record £198m in August 2017, Neymar missed three months between January and April earlier this year after breaking a metatarsal in his right foot.
The same injury had caused him woe in 2018 also, after surgery resulted in a three-month absence which brought him back just in time to feature for Brazil at the Russia World Cup.
He also missed the World Cup semi-final defeat by Germany in 2014 after being kneed in the back by Colombia’s Juan Camilo Zuniga. – MailOnline