Sergio Moraleda


Could the Brazilian be removed to  allow for another non-EU space?


On 18 October, Uruguay and Brazil clashed in the qualifiers for the 2026 World Cup. A challenge from De la Cruz forced Neymar off injured.

The Brazilian, who left the pitch clearly in pain, suffered from a rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament and the meniscus in his left knee.

If the recovery timelines are met, he won't play until mid-2024, missing 25 matches with Al Hilal. It is the worst injury of his career.

This could see the Saudi club placing Neymar on the injured list for the rest of the season, aiming to free up one of their eight slots for foreign players.

Jorge Jesus, the coach of Al Hilal, would reportedly support this decision. His intention is to sign a world-class left-back during the month of January.

This doesn't mean Neymar will become a free agent. If the attacker is fully recovered, he will be reinstated to the squad in the 24/25 season.

Neymar joined the Saudi Pro League this summer for a fee of 90 million, making him the most expensive player in the history of the competition.

However, since his arrival, he has only played in five matches, scoring one goal and providing three assists.

With this injury, Neymar has now faced his 32nd injury as a player. Since leaving Barcelona in 2017, he has spent a total of 746 days sidelined.

Adding the latest projection, Neymar will have missed a total of 202 games due to injuries, and may miss the 2024 Copa América, in June and July.

FIFA will also be adversely affected. Its Club Protection Program will have to pay €20,548 (c.$22,300) to Al Hilal for each day that Neymar remains injured.