Neymar returns to Al Hilal for rehabilitation amid reports player wants Santos return

Brazilian ruled out for the season after rupturing his ACL and meniscus and has contract at Saudi Pro League side until 2025

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Neymar returned to Saudi Arabia this week as he continues his rehabilitation from a long-term knee injury amid speculation he is set to join his first club Santos at the end of his contract.

The Brazilian was greeted by a delegation from club side Al Hial as well as supporters on his arrival in Riyadh, who handed the 32-year-old flowers and gifts while he signed shirts for young fans.

Neymar's return to the kingdom comes as reports by Spanish newspaper El Nacional indicate the player wants to return to his homeland when his contract expires in the summer of 2025 to join the club he joined as an 11-year-old.

His performances at Santos helped launch his career, taking him to Barcelona in 2013 where he would form part of an attacking troika alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez regarded among the best in history.

Neymar was ruled out for the season after rupturing his ACL and meniscus during a 2-0 World Cup qualifier defeat to Uruguay in October.

The Brazilian joined the Saudi Pro League leaders Hilal for a reported €90 million last August, a club and league record transfer fee, signing a two-year contract said to be worth €150m per year.

Neymar managed only five appearances for Al Hilal before his season was curtailed by injury. His debut was delayed while he overcame a long-term ankle problem, making his first appearance for the club off the bench in a 6-1 win over derby rivals Al Riyadh in September.

Images released by Hilal show the former Paris Saint-Germain forward training at the club's facility.

Neymar's absence has not been overly felt on the field. Jorge Jesus' side top the Saudi Pro League table by seven points at the halfway stage.

Hilal face Iran's Sepahan in the Asian Champions League last 16, with the first leg taking place in Isfahan on Thursday with the return leg in Riyadh on February 22.

The Saudi Pro League returns to action on Thursday after a one-month hiatus for the delayed 2023 Asian Cup. Hilal's next league match is at home to Al Raed on Sunday.

Neymar leaves pitch in tears

Updated: February 15, 2024, 7:54 AM