Al-Hilal Targets Barcelona Winger Raphinha to Fill in for Injured Neymar, Reports Say

Al-Hilal are desperate to sign a replacement for Neymar Jr, who has been out of action since sustaining a horrific ACL injury during a FIFA World Cup qualifier against Uruguay on October 18.

As recent reports suggest, Neymar is in no contention to return this season as he requires nearly 7-8 months to recover. His absence has troubled Al-Hilal, who wish to rope in a foreign player as soon as possible.

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According to a report by SPORT, the Saudi Arabian club have kept their eyes on Brazilian forward Raphinha to fill the vacant place of Neymar.

The 26-year-old is currently contracted with La Liga giants Barcelona. In a bid to accommodate a new foreign signing, Al Hilal have already unregistered Neymar from the squad list. Besides Raphinha, Manchester United’s Jadon Sancho and Napoli’s Victor Osimhen are reportedly linked with a move to Al-Hilal.

The Saudi Pro League club previously showed interest in Raphinha this summer. The footballer, however, didn’t pay attention to the Saudi Pro League side as he wanted to continue playing for Barcelona. Back then, Raphinha also got an opportunity to return to the Premier League but turned down the offer.

Raphinha shifted his base to Spain in the summer of 2022 after parting ways with English club Leeds United. He signed a five-year deal with Barcelona worth €57 million. His performance for the Catalonian outfit has not been up to mark this season, starting in five games across all competitions, netting two goals, and providing three assists.

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Apart from Al-Hilal, Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur are reportedly interested in securing Raphinha’s signature during the winter transfer. The Brazilian international, however, has not revealed anything about his future.

As far as Neymar’s injury is concerned, the 31-year-old underwent surgery on his injured knee on November 2. According to Brazil’s national team doctor Rodrigo Lasmar, Neymar has been recovering fast and is expected to become available ahead of the 2024 Copa America, which is slated to be held in the United States between June 20 and July 14.

Neymar has a history of suffering several injuries on his right foot. Due to one of them, Neymar remained out of football for six weeks in 2021. He also missed Brazil’s triumphant Copa America campaign in 2019. The former Barcelona man has only made 17 appearances for his club and country this year. He suffered an ankle injury in February while playing for Paris Saint-Germain, which kept him out of the game for five months.