BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil — Surgery on the broken right foot of Brazil and Paris Saint-Germain superstar Neymar went successfully Saturday, officials said, leaving the planet’s most expensive footballer in a race to recuperate before the World Cup.
The operation, performed by Brazilian national team surgeon Rodrigo Lasmar, began early Saturday morning in the Mater Dei hospital in Belo Horizonte.
Just after midday (1500 GMT), a spokesman from the Brazilian football federation announced that the operation was over.
“Neymar is already in his room. It went well,” he said.
Neymar broke his fifth metatarsal — the bone leading to his small toe — during a 3-0 drubbing of Marseille on Feb. 25.
The striker — whose transfer from Barcelona cost PSG a record 222 million euros ($264 million) last August — has scored 28 goals in 30 appearances in all competitions for the club.
Neymar will miss PSG’s make-or-break game against Real Madrid next Tuesday. But with Lasmar predicting a recovery period of two and a half to three months, Brazil is worried that Neymar, 26, may not be fit for the World Cup in Russia starting in June.
The rival demands from club and country appeared to erupt into tension just as he went under the knife, with Paris newspaper L’Equipe reporting Saturday that PSG believes Lasmar lied about Neymar’s condition.
The report said that Neymar was initially found to have suffered a minor fracture and that PSG was shocked to hear Lasmar say Thursday that it was a serious break requiring a longer than expected recuperation.
Globoesporte.com reported that PSG also insisted it control any future information on the player’s health.
Staff at the hospital in Belo Horizonte, were put on paparazzi lockdown, with a ban on using cellphones anywhere near the star.
Jose Luiz Runco, a former chief medical officer for the Brazilian team, told AFP that Neymar will walk with crutches after two to three weeks, exercise while putting weight on his repaired foot after about 60 to 75 days, and then returning to training.
“He’s likely to recover pretty quickly because he’s an athlete and young.”
A potential plus for Neymar is that the enforced break from competitive football may do him good.
“When you think how exhausting the European season is, he could even arrive fresher than the others, both physically and emotionally,” said Cristiano Nunes, the physiotherapist for Brazilian first division club Internacional in Porto Alegre.