Brazil forward Neymar tore his ACL and meniscus while playing in a World Cup qualifying game, his club Al Hilal confirmed Wednesday.
Neymar was in tears after injuring his left knee in the first half of Brazil’s 2-0 loss to Uruguay on Tuesday.
The 31-year-old Neymar will need surgery. Al Hilal did not say how long he is expected to be out, but it can take six months to a year to recover from ACL injuries.
That would likely rule him out for the rest of the season and place doubts over his participation in next year’s Copa America, which starts in June.
Brazil’s all-time leading scorer was on crutches as he left Estadio Centenario in Montevideo. He had clutched his leg in visible pain and was then carted off the field.
Neymar broke Pele’s Brazil scoring record last month with his 78th goal for his country in a World Cup qualifying match against Bolivia. He added his 79th in the same game, which ended in a 5-1 win.
“Brazilian and world soccer need a healthy Neymar, because soccer is happier when he’s on the field,” Brazilian soccer confederation president Ednaldo Rodrigues said.
Neymar joined Al Hilal in August and has endured a slow start, with an injury limiting him to just three appearances in the domestic league and two in the Asian Champions League, in which he has scored one goal.
He moved to Saudi Arabia from Paris Saint-Germain in a deal worth a reported 90 million euros ($98 million).
After Cristiano Ronaldo, who joined Al-Nassr in December, Neymar was arguably the biggest name to be lured to the oil-rich kingdom as it attempts to establish itself as a major force in world soccer. Champions League winners Karim Benzema, Sadio Mane, Riyad Mahrez and N’Golo Kante also joined the Saudi league.
This is the latest serious injury Neymar has suffered.
At the 2014 World Cup, a knee to the back from Colombia defender Juan Zuniga in the quarterfinals ruled him out of the tournament with a fractured vertebra.
In March, his season with PSG ended after he had surgery on his right ankle.