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Paris St.-Germain Star Neymar Tests Positive for Coronavirus

Neymar, soccer’s costliest player, is one of three Paris St.-Germain players who played in last week’s Champions League final to test positive for the coronavirus, becoming the latest high-profile soccer star to contract the virus ahead of the new season.

Neymar suffered heartbreak last week when P.S.G. lost in its first appearance in the Champions League final, and now faces missing the start of its latest campaign because of strict local protocols that require players who have tested positive to isolate from the rest of the roster.

P.S.G., which paid a record $263 million for Neymar, a forward from Brazil, in 2017, confirmed that three of its players had tested positive without identifying them. But people familiar with the matter, speaking on condition of anonymity because the player was not identified publicly as having tested positive, said Neymar was among the three.

A spokeswoman for Neymar declined to comment. Media reports identified the other players as Ángel Di María and Leandro Paredes, who accompanied Neymar on a vacation to the Spanish island Ibiza.
The cases at P.S.G. follow a pattern of star players, like Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba, testing positive after leaving the restrictive environments set up by their clubs to go on vacation. League officials at the top leagues in Spain and England said recently that they expected a spike in positive cases as players return for preseason training.

“When people come back from vacation there will be a number of people who come back with coronavirus, but I think it’s going to be manageable,” Víctor Manuel Martín Ortega, a vice president of La Liga, told The New York Times in a recent interview.
The positive cases put in doubt the availability of the three P.S.G. players for its first league game in defense of its French league title on Sept. 10. The coronavirus has already disrupted the start of the French season, with the opening game between Marseille and St.-Étienne postponed after Marseille reported four positive tests.

P.S.G. said it would carry out further tests on players and staff over the next few days.

The virus has also played havoc with preliminary games for next season’s Champions League and Europa League competitions. Teams have been forced to forfeit their places in the events after reporting positive cases.

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