(Update 1: Adds quotes from Pochettino)
Paris, Mar 9 (efe-epa).- Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday said that Brazilian star Neymar has been ruled out of the upcoming UEFA Champions League last 16 second-leg game against Barcelona as he is still recovering from adductor problems.
Speaking at a pre-match press conference, head coach Mauricio Pochettino described the outcome as a “shame” for the Brazilian forward.
“He was really looking forward to playing this game, but he is just as excited or even more excited about playing for PSG, being in shape and helping the team to reach its goals, not just in the Champions League, but also in the French Cup and the league.”
He added: “It’s a difficult time for him, because his expectations were to heal but he obviously needs more days and we hope he can get in shape as quickly as possible to help the team.”
Earlier in the day, PSG said in a statement: “Neymar Jr returned to partial training with the squad last week and will continue to work back to fitness individually.”
Another assessment of the fitness of the most expensive player in history will be made in the coming days, according to the club.
Neymar seemed to have a chance to play against his former team as he completed a training session with his teammates on Sunday, but he did not meet the necessary fitness levels, Pochettino added.
“It’s not a decision it’s the (physical) state of a player, in this case, Ney, who hasn’t reached a condition to compete. It’s not a decision, it’s a reality, it’s a fact.
“Ney has worked hard to be in shape, not just for this match, but to be in shape as quickly as possible. All the medical and performance staff have worked hard, his people too, and himself.”
The 29-year-old striker also missed the first leg of the Champions League round of 16 when PSG stunned Barcelona 4-1 at the Camp Nou on Feb. 16.
Neymar sustained an adductor injury during a 1-0 win Caen in the French Cup on Feb. 10.
Since his arrival at PSG in 2017, Neymar has sustained 10 serious injuries, forcing him to miss almost a third of the matches he could have played for his club.EFE