What Neymar's Injury Means for Barcelona

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What Neymar's Injury Means for Barcelona
Fabrizio Bensch/Associated Press
Neymar will be out of first team action until at least September.

When Neymar went crashing down in a heap late on against Colombia, writhing in agony as he appears to do so often, no eyelids were batted initially.

However, when the true extent of his injuries became clear, a hush descended upon the Castelao Stadium in Fortaleza.

How Juan Zuniga's assault on Brazil's poster boy went unpunished is anyone's guess, but in a game of 54 fouls and only four yellow cards, the fingers will all be pointing at an insipid refereeing performance from Carlos Velasco Carballo.

Jamie McDonald/Getty Images
Juan Zuniga's crude challenge saw the end to Neymar's tournament.

The Spanish referee was a walking disaster throughout, Neymar's injury the culmination of his poor handling of a game that had the potential to be the match of the tournament.

The Guardian's chief football writer, Daniel Taylor, caught up with him at the airport after the game, where a clearly embarrassed Carballo wanted no part of any interview:

Unfortunately I cannot talk about it. I would like to but the rules do not allow it. We did a FIFA open day for the referees at the start of the tournament and we were all very open that day. I can talk to you about Manchester United or Chelsea or Jose Mourinho or anything else, but not this, thank you.

His reticence was understandable, given the wave of anger heading his way from officials of both teams. An earlier brandishing of cards may well have put a stop to the viciousness in the game and potentially seen Neymar continue on his wonderful World Cup journey.

His unavailability from this point is a shame for the tournament, but what does his injury mean to Barcelona?

Conservative initial estimates, per Brazil club doctor Jose Luiz Runco via Martyn Ziegler of the Press Association in his Daily Mail report, put Neymar's initial recovery time at 45 days, and despite the apparent severity of the injury, there was still some good news:

He was extremely moved when I gave him the news that he was out of the World Cup.

He cried a lot, which was a natural reaction at that moment. But I told him that although his dream was being cut short, he was still a 22-year-old with a lot in front of him. It was still a 'good' type of injury.

Barca's own medical staff have been kept informed of the situation, and the club will hope to have one of their star men back sooner rather than later.

Per FCBarcelona.com, the Catalans begin pre-season training on July 14. That means Neymar will, in a best-case scenario, be approximately 36 days behind his team-mates in their preparations.

Indeed, 45 days from the injury itself would place Neymar's arrival back in the first-team picture on August 18, the date his team-mates will play Club Leon of Mexico in the Joan Gamper Trophy, Barca's traditional curtain-raiser to the season.

Leo Correa/Associated Press
Neymar had to fly by helicopter and kept prone, such is the nature of his injury.

The La Liga season kicks off on August 23. Given the nature of Neymar's injury, it would be fair to assume that he won't be thrown straight back into competitive action.

If there are no further complications, then missing the first three to four weeks of the season isn't beyond the realms of possibility.

Emilio Morenatti/Associated Press
It could be mid-September before we see Neymar in a Barcelona shirt again.

The last thing that Barca need is to rush the Brazilian back before he is 100 percent ready.

With Alexis Sanchez likely to be snapped up by Arsenal before the start of the season, per David Ormstein of the BBC, and Luis Suarez unable to play for the Catalans until at least October, Pedro Rodriguez will get an early chance to impress alongside Lionel Messi.

Andres Kudacki/Associated Press
Pedro Rodriguez can stake an early claim to a regular starting berth.

Cristian Tello is on the verge of a move to Porto according to Charles Perrin of the Daily Express, so there's every chance that Gerard Deulofeu will slot straight into the wide-right position he made his own while at Everton.

This is certainly not the way Luis Enrique would have envisaged the season starting, but it does give him an early opportunity to assess the depth within his squad.

It also allows Neymar to fully recover from his summer exertions before being unleashed on La Liga in mid-September.

Not ideal, but not the disaster it could so easily have been.

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