Why is Neymar always injured or unavailable in March?

James Cormack
Neymar was stretchered off in PSG's 4-3 victory over Lille on Sunday
Neymar was stretchered off in PSG's 4-3 victory over Lille on Sunday / Tim Clayton - Corbis/GettyImages

There are very few guarantees in life, but Neymar taking time off in March is one of them.

It's a busy time of the year for the Brazilian superstar, who has so much more to think about than, you know, doing his job.

Neymar has made an odd habit of becoming unavailable at the back end of February and into March since moving to Europe, and his latest injury setback could see that trend continue in 2023.

However, it appears that there's a reason (or two) for Neymar's pattern of absences around this time of year.

Neymar's latest injury setback

The 31-year-old was stretchered off during Paris Saint-Germain's rollercoaster victory over Lille in Ligue 1 on Sunday with an ankle injury.

PSG confirmed after that Neymar had sustained ligament damage as opposed to a fracture, but he could still be out of action for several weeks as a result. The superstar forward has a history of ankle injuries, most recently picking up an ankle sprain which saw him miss time at the 2022 World Cup.

Neymar's injury has immediately thrust his status for the Champions League last 16 return leg against Bayern Munich on 8 March into doubt.

How many times has Neymar been unavailable in March?

Neymar broke a seven-year streak in 2022 when he actually played for PSG during a crucial point in the season.

In 2015 and 2016, during the Brazilian's second and third seasons at Barcelona, he picked up one-game suspensions due to yellow card accumulation. Then, in 2017, 'muscular problems' ruled him out for a week in mid-March.

The Brazilian later sustained metatarsal fractures in 2018 and 2019, which saw him miss a total of 34 games for PSG during the second halves of those seasons.

Neymar's favourite 'ploy' - the innocuous suspension - returned in 2020 as he picked up a second yellow card for seemingly no reason by crashing into Yacine Adli at the end of a Ligue 1 encounter against Bordeaux. The Brazilian picked up a one-game ban as a result.

Transfermarkt.com cites 'adductor problems' for his March 2021 absence. Last season, Neymar returned to action in February following a lengthy absence and played throughout March 2022, starting all four of PSG's games that month.

Why is Neymar always unavailable in March?

Neymar's pattern of absences during this period eventually arose some suspicion and it was discovered that the Brazilian superstar's sister, Rafaella Santos, celebrates her birthday on 11 March.

Neymar has made a habit of being around for that date, and the injury he sustained against Lille could see him sidelined for his sister's birthday once again.

There's also the Rio de Janeiro carnival to consider. It's an event Neymar adores and he's constantly pictured enjoying the festivities with high-profile Brazilian celebrities.

Carnival season in Rio is at the end of February, and Neymar has often been absent from the pitch, conveniently enabling him to enjoy the party.