Jesus reveals Neymar timeline for return at Al Hilal

Brazil superstar Neymar is working to make his comeback from injury in the first few months of next season, Al Hilal manager Jorge Jesus has revealed.

The talented playmaker, a record signing for the Riyadh club last summer, suffered a season-ending cruciate ligament injury while on international duty in October. He is Brazil's all-time leading goalscorer.

Neymar, however, was a big part of Al Hilal’s recent Roshn Saudi League title celebrations in the capital, where he declared himself as “feeling good” and “impatient to be back on the pitch”.

With the No.10’s rehabilitation in full swing, Jesus is eagerly anticipating having the world-class attacker back in his plans for the upcoming campaign, saying Neymar is "currently in a crucial phase of treatment".

"We are hopeful he might be ready to rejoin the team and start practicing by September or October," Jesus said. "He is a star player, he possesses exceptional talent. Unfortunately, I can't provide a definitive answer at this point – injuries like Neymar's typically require 10 to 12 months for recovery.”

As someone who knows exactly what it is like to both play with and against Neymar, Al Hilal teammate Kalidou Koulibaly will be delighted to have the 32-year-old back in action. The Senegalese defender, a key part of the club’s world-record winning run earlier in the campaign, believes Neymar's return will only make Al Hilal even better next season – as well as himself.

“It will be really important; Neymar is a really important player for us," the former Napoli and Chelsea defender said. "I call him the ‘Magia’ – magician – because he has so much magic in his feet. When he touches the ball, he is incredible. 

"We are waiting for him to be fit and to play with us and to make us happy and to make the supporters happy. Also to play with him – to play with someone of that level – you can only increase your own level and become better. Neymar is really important for us, and I hope that next year he will play all season and that we can win some trophies with him.”

Speaking at the recent title celebrations following Al Hilal’s 4-1 victory against Al Hazem in Matchweek 31 that clinched the capital club’s sixth league title in the past eight years, Neymar said: “I am very happy, obviously. Winning titles is always good. The best thing would have been being on the pitch, but I am so happy for my teammates.

“I am fine. I am feeling good. I am impatient to be back on the pitch. The fans are unbelievable. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to give them the happiness they deserve, but you can be sure that next season we are going to have a lot of fun.”

Unbeaten domestically this season, Al Hilal clinched the RSL trophy with three matches to spare, and have won 29 of their 32 games thus far. Nearest challengers Al Nassr, captained by Cristiano Ronaldo, are 12 points behind. Al Hilal’s next match is at home to Al Tai on Thursday.

Al Hilal created top-flight world football history this season by winning 34 matches in succession between September and April across all competitions. The incredible run saw them overtake Welsh club The News Saints’ winning streak of 27 games in the 2016-17 season.

Prior to that, the record stood for 44 years following Dutch giants Ajax’s 26-game winning stretch between 1971 and 1972.