Brazil star Neymar flew back into France on Friday to rejoin his club Paris Saint-Germain after an operation on a broken foot bone in March.
An AFP photographer at the scene took shots of Neymar seemingly at ease as he strolled to an awaiting van wearing sports shoes, no sign of a foot brace and not using crutches.
Neymar, who arrived by private jet at an airport outside Paris, is continuing his recovery following the operation and his focus is firmly set on being fit to lead Brazil’s World Cup challenge in Russia this summer.
Neymar’s injury sent shockwaves through Brazil after the iconic forward had also been injured in their home World Cup in 2014, with the team losing 7-1 in the semi-finals to Germany in a landmark humiliation in his absence.
The 26-year-old forward — whose 222 million-euro ($263 million) transfer from Barcelona to PSG last year made him the most expensive player in history — broke a bone in his right foot while playing for the French club on February 25 and has been in a race for fitness since undergoing surgery in Brazil on March 3.
According to French sports paper L’Equipe, he has been walking without crutches for two weeks but he said last week that he would not play again before undergoing a final medical on May 17, two days ahead of PSG’s last match of the season.
PSG coach Unai Emery admitted Thursday he had not spoken to Neymar for “some weeks”, as the striker stayed at his coastal mansion in Rio.
“I’m not sure when he’s coming, I’ve heard he is coming though,” Emery said.
“He needs to be left alone to work with the physios, but we also want him to be with us for the last match.”
Neymar has scored 28 goals in all competitions for the French side this season since leaving Barcelona.
PSG were beaten by Real Madrid in the Champions League as Neymar missed the second leg, but have regained the French league title, won the League Cup and face third-division Les Herbiers in the French Cup final on Tuesday.
The surgeon who operated on Neymar’s foot told Brazilian daily Folha de Sao Paulo on Friday the objective is “that he is 100 percent fit for the start of World Cup training”, which is scheduled for May 21 at Teresopolis near Rio.