Neymar PSG’s leader and an artist – Tuchel
Neymar has been challenged to lead Paris Saint-Germain with his artistry this season by head coach Thomas Tuchel.
The Brazil superstar returned from a disappointing World Cup to make his first appearance for PSG since February as a substitute in last weekend’s 4-0 Trophee des Champions triumph against Monaco.
With the broken metatarsal that curtailed his debut season in the French capital behind him, Tuchel wants the world’s most expensive player to shine as his team’s focal point.
“It is clear that Neymar is my key player,” the former Borussia Dortmund boss told a news conference ahead of PSG’s top-flight opener against Caen on Sunday.
“He is one of the best players in the world but he is also an artist, a creative. For creative players it’s sometimes easier not to put too much pressure on them.
“There are many ways to be a leader and for Neymar, in my opinion, he is our leader when he is happy in terms of game content.
“He takes risks, creates more. There are players who are responsible for the defence too and for me it is not his role.”
In terms of star quality, veteran Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon may give Neymar a run for his money at the Parc des Princes this season.
The 40-year-old former Juventus great is expected to start ahead of Alphonse Areola and Kevin Trapp for PSG this term, although Tuchel acknowledged he has a tough decision to make.
“Gigi is a top player, professional and a legend,” he said. “He is like that in the locker room with all the staff. He is humble and polite.
“He’s a good influence for our team. And regarding the three goalies, it will be a tough decision for me.
“All three of them are quite talented and have the personality to be number one. There are still two training sessions before the match and I will speak with them.
“But if there’s one thing I’ve learned as a coach, it’s not to make decisions too early.”
A couple of decisions that appear to have been taken out of Tuchel’s hands are those regarding the selection of left-back Layvin Kurzawa (back) or midfielder Marco Verratti (adductor), both of whom missed training on Saturday.
“Marco had surgery at the end of last season and he is still suffering from this,” he explained.
“He has highs and lows, he trained hard during the pre-season. Sometimes they are not even pains but sensations and we must be careful.”
Tuchel added: “Regarding the players who arrived on Monday [following a post-World Cup break], we will decide today or after training tomorrow. I do not want to take any chances but you can imagine that they all want to play.”