(Reuters) – Brazilian winger Neymar might have to wait until September to make his debut for Saudi Arabia’s Al-Hilal because of injury, coach Jorge Jesus said.
Neymar joined Al-Hilal from Paris St Germain last Tuesday on a two-year contract that French newspaper L’Equipe said could earn the 31-year-old 160 million euros ($174 million).
“Neymar is an innovative and creative player, he will help us to improve, but he has a slight injury now and I don’t know when he will return. Maybe he will be ready in mid-September,” Jesus said after a welcoming ceremony in front of 60,000 spectators at the King Fahd International Stadium on Saturday.
Drones flew above Al-Hilal’s home ground and spelled out “Neymar is Blue” before the former Barcelona star watched his new team held to a 1-1 draw by Al-Fayha.
Al-Hilal coach Jesus also expressed his surprise at Neymar’s inclusion in the Brazil squad for two World Cup qualifiers next month.
“I don’t know how the Brazilian national team (could have) called him, he is not ready,” Jesus said.
Neymar has not played for Brazil since last year’s World Cup as he recovers from an ankle injury sustained in February, but he has been included in the squad for World Cup qualifiers against Bolivia on Sept. 8 and Peru four days later.
($1 = 0.9197 euros)
(Reporting by Ahmed Mostafa; Editing by David Goodman)
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