Neymar has had a wonderful career in European football with Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain but there has been a common occurrence during his time at both clubs.
The Brazil international has suffered injuries during the past seven-and-a-half years but there has been a familiar trend of him getting sidelined in either February or March.
Obviously, the first thing that comes to mind is his sister’s birthday on March 11 which he managed to attend mid-season between 2015 and 2019.
The 29-year-old is set to miss the upcoming Champions League tie against Blaugrana this week after a calf injury sustained against Caen in the Coupe de France.
Les Parisiens have not provided a suitable return date but it has been reported that he could be out for at least a month with the setback.
This can still be regarded as pure coincidence. We look into seven previous occasions where Neymar has curiously missed games in February and March.
February 2015: Yellow card suspension
The 2014/15 season was the campaign where Neymar announced himself at the European stage. The attacker formed an impressive partnership with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez fondly named ‘MSN’ and he capped off a fine season with the third goal in the 3-1 Champions League final win over Juventus.
Much prior to the club’s treble, Neymar picked up his fifth yellow card of the season against Granada on February 28 and he subsequently missed the 6-1 victory over Rayo Vallecano on March 8 with a one-match suspension.
He was allowed by the Blaugrana to return to Brazil for his sister’s birthday on March 11, but no one would have predicted that this would become a regular trend.
March 2016: Similar case to 2015
The following campaign an almost identical scenario occurred as he was handed his fifth yellow card during the league clash against Rayo Vallecano on March 3.
While he was only expected to miss one game against Eibar on March 6, the forward got permission from then-head coach Luis Enrique and the four captains in Andres Iniesta, Lionel Messi, Sergi Busquets and Javier Mascherano to head to Brazil to see Rafaella in time for her Disney-themed birthday party.
— MailOnline Sport (@MailSport) March 9, 2016
March 2017: Adductor injury
Neymar was the headline maker in March 2017 when he produced a stellar display against PSG in the Champions League round of 16. The Blaugrana were embarrassed 4-0 at Parc des Princes in the first leg but they managed to overturn the tie in miraculous fashion with a 6-1 triumph at Camp Nou.
The forward turned the game in the Blaugrana’s favour with a 10-minute spell of individual brilliance where he scored two goals and delivered the free-kick for Sergi Roberto’s last gasp winner.
Right after the game, he didn’t make the squad to face Deportivo La Coruna with an adductor injury which gave him time to return to Brazil once again. The Blaugrana would go on to be eliminated by Juventus in the quarter-final in his absence.
February 2018: Broken Metatarsal
Just months after his Barcelona heroics, Neymar made the move to Les Parisiens in a world-record transfer.
The French champions suffered a 3-1 defeat to Real Madrid in the Champions League round of 16 first-leg at the Bernabeu and shortly after the game, it was confirmed that the forward was sidelined with a broken toe and a sprained ankle.
While Les Parisiens were already trailing in the European tie, they were eliminated from the competition in his absence after a 2-1 defeat at Parc des Princes.
Prior to the reverse leg, he returned home for surgery and would have obviously spent time with his sister. He was able to recover in time for the 2018 World Cup with Brazil, who were ousted at the last eight stage.
January 2019: Metatarsal flare-up
In January 2019, Neymar sustained a recurrence of the metatarsal injury in a Coupe de France clash against Strasbourg.
The Brazilian was ruled out of the round of 16 Champions League ties against Manchester United and that did not stop him from partying on his birthday (February 5) with a bright crimson blazer and matching crutches alongside the likes of Kylian Mbappe and Dani Alves.
🇧🇷🎊🎉 EEEEEEEEEEEEU, PARADO NO BAILÃÃÃÃO!
E na festa de aniversário de @neymarjr em Paris, só fera dançando! Mbappé, Wesley Safadão, Medina e Daniel Alves! Ahhhhh, se o estagiário pudesse estar lá…
📽 – Instagram/David Brazil pic.twitter.com/LaUHxavMgW
— FOX Sports Brasil (de 🏠) (@FoxSportsBrasil) February 5, 2019
Things looked bright for Les Parisiens as they clinched a 2-0 away victory over United in the first leg. However, no-one would have predicted the outcome of the return leg where the Red Devils won 3-1 after a last-gasp penalty scored by Marcus Rashford following a hand ball from Presnel Kimpembe which was adjudged by VAR.
United won on the away-goal rule and the shock on Neymar’s face, who was in the dug-out has become a classic GIF and meme.
February 2020: Neymar’s birthday and a rib injury
After six years, Neymar stayed put in France in February last year, but that did not stop him from having a birthday party with several teammates with an all-white dress code.
The celebrations were kept 48 hours prior to the weekend game against Nantes on February 4. Still, he was not in the squad for the game with manager Thomas Tuchel confirming a rib injury.
February 2020: Another suspension
Neymar got himself suspended with a second yellow card in the 4-3 league win over Bordeaux and that coincided with the carnival festival in Brazil.
Funny enough, prior to the game, the forward confirmed that there would be no controversy this time around and he would miss the Rio carnival for the first time in six years.
Neymar confirms he’s missing the Rio Carnival for the first time in six years 😂
(via NeymarJR/Instagram) pic.twitter.com/4VnYAAuRyG
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) February 21, 2020
That was the case as the Brazilian stayed injury-free and played the Champions League round of 16 ties against Borussia Dortmund where the club came from a first-leg deficit to win 3-2 on aggregate. Neymar’s career has not been short of speculation particularly at the current point of the calendar year.
He has had the sheer bad luck of getting himself injured in February and will be missed for the crunch European tie against Barcelona where many fans were eagerly awaiting for his match-up against close friend Messi for the first time since the 2011 FIFA Club World Cup final when he was still in the Santos ranks.
Stats from Transfermarkt.com