?Neymar Jr has opened up to former Real Madrid, Barcelona and Brazil icon Ronaldo Nazario about injuries, diving and the reputation that has somewhat tainted the 27-year-old’s time at Paris Saint-Germain.
In an exclusive three-part series of Half Time episodes with YouTube channel Otro, Neymar has admitted that the primary reason for his habit of hitting the floor early is to avoid any serious injury he may incur from an opponent’s challenge – a similar reason to the one Gareth Bale gave while at Tottenham.
Two-time Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldo claimed ‘football is becoming less honourable’ when speaking to his Brazilian counterpart, saying: “Your playing style has become controversial more than once. But I spoke to your father and he said you do it [dive] so you don’t injure yourself, because of your body.
“He told me that it’s to defend yourself physically, and since you were thinner than everyone else, the best way to do that was to take these falls…you protected yourself by avoiding these shocks.”
Neymar duly agreed with the Brazil legend, adding:
The PSG star’s caution is understandable in some senses, the world’s most expensive player missing a total of 339 days with injury since the 2016/17 season, being absent for a full 55 club games in the process.
Neymar has been fouled 3.4 times per game in his five appearances for the Parisian side in the league so far in the 2019/20 campaign, compared to being fouled 5.7 and 3.4 times per game in Ligue 1 and the Champions League respectively last season.
Ronaldo himself is likely to sympathise with his countryman, having suffered a series of injuries which hampered his career and arguably stopped him from reaching his full potential as a player.
The former Internazionale and AC Milan striker ruptured a tendon in his knee against Lecce in 1999 and, after spending five months out to recover from surgery, his lasted just six minutes until he completely ruptured the tendons in his kneecap against Lazio in the Coppa Italia final.