Designated to Return: PSG Neymar da Silva Santos Junior

PSG mercurial superstar Neymar was injured on Wednesday, February 10th in a 1-0 victory against Caen in the French Cup. He suffered a groin/thigh injury prior to the UEFA Champions League, Round of 16 First leg against Barcelona that is scheduled to be played Tuesday, February 16th.

His manager stated that Neymar suffered a left adductor injury. The adductor complex is made up many different muscles that vary in size, length, strength and function. Very rarely do these muscles act independently but act synergistically and in opposition with other muscles of the hip and thigh. And when you talk about “function,” these muscles not only bring the femur towards the midline of the body (adduction) but some also assist in flexion, external rotation, internal rotation.

The set of “adductor” muscles in question are likely (all which primarily adduct the hip):

  • Adductor Magnus: can externally rotate the femur, internally rotate the femur, or extend the hip
  • Adductor Longus: can externally rotate the femur, weak flexion of the hip
  • Adductor Brevis: can assist in flexion of the hip, femur position dependent can internally or externally rotate the hip

Further evaluation by team physicians and doctors other muscles that also could be in play are:

  • Pectineus: adducts the hip, flexion of the hip
  • Gracilis: adducts the hip, medial rotation of femur with hip flexion, lateral rotation, knee flexion
  • Obturator Externus: external rotation of femur, stabilization of hip

As you can see through the pictures and function the adductor muscles have various functions. But aside from their origin and insertion actions they also have to stabilize the pelvis and femur to allow for pushing off, cutting, stopping, rotating, turning, etc.

Which means these muscles have more than one function. That is what can make rehabilitation of the groin a challenge. It’s one thing to be out of pain when just moving the leg but when you involve everyday activities and then sport-specific activities it adds another dynamic.

Similar to a soft tissue hamstring injury, a soft tissue groin injury can linger if a proper timeline and rehabilitation protocol is not establish.

Muscle strains are on based on a Graded Scale of I-III. I indicating a stretch with III indicating a complete tear of a particular muscle. Not only does the magnitude of the damage matter but the location of the damage will also influence the timeline. Depending on the location, if Grade III had been sustained, you have to be careful that an avulsion fracture did not occur. Soft tissue damage is established based off of MRI imaging.

An injury to the belly of a muscle likely will heal faster than an injury to the musculotendinous junction or tendon of a muscle. The reason being that the belly of the muscle has a greater blood supply than the tendon of a muscle.

Many outlets have already reported he is going to be sidelined for the next 4 weeks and the possibility of returning to Brazil to rehabilitate his injury. With a certainty of missing the next 4 matches, including the First Leg of Two in the Round of 16 against Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League, there is a chance he could miss the Second Leg against Barcelona as well since that game is March 10th. Groin injuries can certainly linger even if the proper rehabilitation occurs because of how important those group of muscles are to every day activities and especially sport-related activities.

Given the magnitude of the UEFA Champions League, especially with against Barcelona, you’d expect Neymar do what he could to be able to play in that game but you just don’t know his mindset and his comfort level in his body as it gets closer as he progresses through rehabilitation. His manager, Pochettino, even stated “There is always hope that the recovery process will be favoruable. I hope he will be in the return leg. Neymar’s commitment and motivation is huge,” in an interview reported by ESPN.

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