Barcelona star Neymar will miss Sunday's (28 August) La Liga trip to Athletic Bilbao after being given an extended break following his participation in the Rio Olympics. The Brazil international was expected to return to training with the Catalan outfit this week, but reports in Spain suggest he will stay in his homeland for the remainder of the month after receiving special dispensation from club boss Luis Enrique.
Barcelona began their La Liga title defence with an impressive 6-2 victory over Real Betis on Saturday, with Arda Turan opening the scoring after taking the Brazilian's place in attack alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez. At almost the same time, Neymar was leading his country to Olympic gold by scoring the winning penalty in the shootout against Germany, having also netted his team's only goal during standard time.
The Barcelona ace and compatriot Rafinha Alcantara were expected to return to Spain immediately to help them prepare for the weekend trip to San Mames. However, it looks like only the latter will face Athletic after it emerged Luis Enrique has allowed Neymar to stay in Brazil a while longer.
The club are yet to make an official announcement, but both Mundo Deportivo and Sport report the Brazilian will be enjoying some extra time off, and presumably not be available until the third La Liga game of the season, against Alaves on 10 September.
The reason for Luis Enrique's decision could be down to the upcoming international break, which occurs after the Athletic Club match. Neymar faces World Cup 2018 qualifiers against Ecuador and Colombia, and his club boss has seemingly decided that Neymar's time would not be best spent returning to Spain only to fly out to South America again immediately after.
Furthermore, the forward ended the Rio Olympics with some niggles to his ankle and Luis Enrique could back the rest as it will help him return to full fitness. Arda Turan is expected to remain in the Barcelona line-up against Athletic after impression on the left wing during Neymar's absence.