Rio de Janeiro (AFP) – Brazil’s star striker Neymar admits “fear” ahead of his return for the World Cup after a lengthy layoff following surgery for a broken bone in his foot.
In an interview published Friday on former Brazil legend Zico’s YouTube channel, Neymar said he is in a race against time to get mentally ready for the tournament in Russia.
“Everything’s going well, thank God, but there’s always this fear when you come back and I need to get rid of that fear as soon as possible to arrive at the World Cup,” the 26-year-old, who has been out since the end of February, said.
The interview with Zico, a great from Brazil’s 1980s team, took place last week, just before Neymar returned to France, where he is expected to restart training shortly with Paris Saint-Germain.
He still hopes to be completely rehabilitated by the June 14 start of the World Cup. Brazil’s opening game is against Switzerland on June 17.
“The idea is that he can return to working on the field from next week provided that he responds favorably to tomorrow’s test,” Brazilian team doctor Rodrigo Lasmar told selected media, including AFP, in Paris.
Neymar said that at first his return to competitive levels was “complicated. I was always afraid of making complete movements and I’d end up compensating”.
The star also lauded his PSG teammate Kylian Mbappe, who is just 19, as “the best in the world for his age”.
“He’s a phenomenon. I’ve already told (Brazil midfielder) Casemiro that he’ll have to take care of him” if Brazil face France in Russia.