Neymar is stretchered off in tears following a severe knee injury while playing for Brazil

Neymar’s international break concluded on a somber note as the Al Hilal star was carried off the pitch in tears with a knee injury during the match against Uruguay.

The 31-year-old’s injury added to the recent struggles of caretaker manager Fernando Diniz’s team, as they only managed to secure one point from their last two European Championship qualifying matches.

A 1-1 draw against Venezuela preceded an intense contest against Marcelo Bielsa’s Uruguay, with the former Leeds United manager’s team winning 2-0 thanks to goals from Darwin Nunez and Nicolas de la Cruz. However, the defeat was overshadowed by the sight of Neymar being stretchered off with what appeared to be a significant knee injury.

Both sets of players swarmed the scene after a challenge from goalscorer de la Cruz left Neymar in a heap on the floor, immediately clutching his knee and screeching in pain.

He was then stretchered off, covering his eyes as he went down the tunnel. Brazil doctor Rodrigo Lasmar has since provided an update on the winger’s condition, outlining the next steps to determine the severity of the injury.

“These 24 hours will be important to see how the knee will respond, how will be the swelling,” he said.

“Imaging tests that will define a definitive diagnosis. It’s too early to say [if it’s a ligament injury]. Let’s wait for the exams calmly, evaluate calmly, and as soon as we have a definition we will let you know.”

Neymar was later pictured leaving the Estadio Centenario on crutches and a splint supporting his left leg in a worrying sight for supporters.

The former Champions League winner made the popular switch to the Saudi Pro League over the summer, joining Al Hilal from Paris Saint-Germain for an eye-watering €90 million (£78m).

However, the former Barcelona star hasn’t had the easiest start to life in the Middle East after reports accused him of being involved in a dressing room fight.

While he saw his penalty saved against Al Shabab, before netting his first goal the following match.

But despite the criticism against him, Brazil boss Dinaz launched a passionate defence of the forward ahead of their clash against Uruguay, insisting he is one of the “greatest players in world football”.

“No coach in the world would give up on Neymar with the hunger he has and the desire he has,” Diniz said (viaESPN)

“Again, [against Venezuela] he was decisive, he provided an assist. I already said that Neymar is one of the greatest players in the history of Brazilian football and world football.”

“One thing worth mentioning is Neymar’s numbers, he is first in almost all important aspects for a striker,” Diniz said. “First in goals, assists, goal participation, dribbling, first in a score on the specialised website… the numbers explain why he is here.”

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