By Jack Beresford
Neymar’s unseemly habit of going down under even the tenderest of bodily contact has won him few fans at this World Cup.
It has, however, earned him plenty in the way of extra rest if one study is to be believed.
That’s because, according to data collated by Swiss broadcaster RTS, the Brazilian has spent nearly 14 minutes writhing around on the turf during the tournament so far.
That’s 4 minutes and 30 seconds of agony per appearance thus far, or seven minutes of pain per goal. Hell of a ratio.
All told, the Brazilian has suffered 23 fouls (and we use the word ‘foul’ incredibly loosely there) in four games at the tournament – the most of any player.
According to RTS’s numbers, Neymar spent a whopping 5 minutes and 30 seconds writhing around on the ground against Mexico alone.
The longest of these delays came when Miguel Layun stepped on the forward’s right ankle, prompting a spectacular burst of amateur dramatics from the PSG striker.
Prior to that, Neymar spent 1 minute and 56 seconds “injured” against Serbia and endured 3 minutes and 40 seconds of similar suffering when they faced Switzerland.
Add in a further 2 minutes and six seconds of respite against Costa Rica (that gives us a total of 13 mins and 50 seconds overall) and you start to see why Neymar is quickly becoming the football equivalent of the boy who cried wolf, except this boy also has five different hairstyles a week.
He may yet lead Brazil to glory in Russia, of course, but he’s still got a lot to do – starting with a quarter-final against Belgium and a potential semi-final with France or Uruguay.
Come through those unscathed and only England will stand between Neymar and a World Cup trophy.
Yeah, you read that right.