Neymar Banned For Two League Games After Red Card

Paris Saint-Germain’s Brazilian forward Neymar celebrates after Paris Saint-Germain’s French forward Kylian Mbappe (not in picture) scored the 0-1 goal during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final first leg football match between FC Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) in Munich, southern Germany, on April 7, 2021. (Photo by Christof STACHE / AFP)

 

 

Neymar has been suspended for Paris Saint-Germain’s next two Ligue 1 matches after being sent off in their loss to title rivals Lille last weekend, the French league (LFP) said Wednesday.

The Brazilian forward was given two yellow cards, the second for a late push on Tiago Djalo, who was also dismissed.

Neymar also tried to confront Djalo again in the hallway leading to the dressing rooms.

He will miss Saturday’s game at Strasbourg and the match against struggling Saint-Etienne on April 18.

It was Neymar’s second sending off of the campaign, and his fourth in as many seasons since joining PSG from Barcelona.

The defending champions sit three points behind new Ligue 1 leaders Lille with seven matches remaining.

Neymar Loses Battle To Be Fit For Barcelona Showdown

Paris Saint-Germain's Brazilian forward Neymar looks on during the UEFA Champions League group H football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Istanbul Basaksehir FK at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris, on December 9, 2020. FRANCK FIFE / AFP
Paris Saint-Germain’s Brazilian forward Neymar looks on during the UEFA Champions League group H football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Istanbul Basaksehir FK at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris, on December 9, 2020. FRANCK FIFE / AFP

 

Neymar will not be available for Paris Saint-Germain’s Champions League decider with Barcelona after failing to shake off a thigh injury, the French champions said on Tuesday.

In a statement, PSG said that Brazil forward Neymar “will continue his individual training”, saying that a new assessment would be made “in the coming days”.

The 29-year-old had begun training with the squad again last week but will not return in time for Wednesday’s last 16, second leg clash with his former club at the Parc des Princes.

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Neymar has been out of action since mid-February after picking up the thigh injury in PSG’s French Cup victory over Caen.

The injury meant he also missed the first leg at the Camp Nou, which PSG won 4-1.

PSG Suffer First Defeat Under Pochettino After Lorient Comeback

Lorient’s Nigerian forward Terem Moffi (C) shoots and scores a goal with during the French L1 football match between FC Lorient and Paris Saint-Germain at the Stade Yves-Allainmat stadium, in Lorient, western France, on January 31, 2021. (Photo by DAMIEN MEYER / AFP)

 

Paris Saint-Germain suffered their first defeat under Mauricio Pochettino as lowly Lorient fought back to claim a dramatic 3-2 victory on Sunday and prevent the defending champions from retaking top spot in Ligue 1.

Neymar scored two penalties but the visitors collapsed late on at the Stade du Moustoir, as Nigerian Terem Moffi netted an injury-time winner.

The loss saw PSG stay one point behind league leaders Lyon, although third-placed Lille could go two points clear when they host Dijon later on Sunday.

“We have to keep the positive aspects and move forward,” said former Tottenham manager Pochettino.

“Accidents happen in football. We have to keep working. It makes us realise that it can happen if we don’t play at 100 percent.”

It was the first defeat in six games as PSG coach for Pochettino since he took over from the sacked Thomas Tuchel.

The win takes struggling Lorient into the relegation play-off spot.

“(Moffi’s goal) was magical. Against PSG, it’s even crazier,” said Lorient’s Laurent Abergel, who scored the opening goal.

“For a Marseille fan like me, the first dream is perhaps to play for OM and the second to beat PSG.”

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Lorient started brightly and had the first real shot in anger in the 30th minute, as Adrian Grbic’s long-range strike had to be pushed away by PSG goalkeeper Sergio Rico.

The hosts did take the lead six minutes later, though, as PSG failed several times to clear and Abergel picked out the top corner with the outside of his left boot.

Neymar levelled on the stroke of half-time from the penalty spot with his fifth league goal of the season.

PSG improved after the break and took the lead in the 57th minute as Houboulang Mendes, who also conceded the first penalty, brought down Mauro Icardi and Neymar again made no mistake.

It was the first time since Zlatan Ibrahimovic in 2015 that a PSG player had netted two spot-kicks in a Ligue 1 match.

The visitors pressed for a third, but Lorient goalkeeper Matthieu Dreyer made an excellent stop to keep out an Icardi header.

That proved to be crucial, as the stubborn home side equalised in the 80th minute.

Substitute Yoane Wissa scored an excellent individual goal, his sixth of his first full campaign as a top-flight player.

PSG went in search of a winner, but the closest they came saw full-back Layvin Kurzawa’s drive fly narrowly wide.

They over-committed in the second minute of added time, leaving no defenders within 60 yards of their own goal as Moffi was sent racing clean through.

The 21-year-old, on as a sub, slotted the ball into the bottom corner to spark wild celebrations for the home team.

Neymar Laughs Off Reports Of New Year’s Party For 500

Paris Saint-Germain's Brazilian forward Neymar looks on during the UEFA Champions League group H football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Istanbul Basaksehir FK at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris, on December 9, 2020. FRANCK FIFE / AFP
FRANCK FIFE / AFP

 

Neymar laughed off controversy Thursday over reports he was throwing a mega New Year’s party for 500 guests, posting a video online of preparations for what he called a “low-key dinner” with family and friends.

The superstar footballer has faced a flood of criticism in his native Brazil and beyond over reports that despite the coronavirus pandemic he was ringing in 2021 with a week-long bash for hundreds of people at his mansion outside Rio de Janeiro.

However, he took to Instagram several hours before midnight to show his New Year’s Eve plans, which he described as small-scale.

The 28-year-old Paris Saint-Germain striker posted a video of a dinner table that appeared to be for about 40 guests, decked out with white flowers and an empty chair between each place setting.

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“Marvelous decoration for this beautiful, low-key little dinner at home, with social distancing,” he said.

“And it’s not for 500 people, ok?” he added with a laugh.

“Social distancing. Everyone tested,” he wrote in a caption.

Earlier, he posted videos of himself and his nine-year-old son getting what he called his “50th test” for the new coronavirus.

Neymar, who hasn’t played since injuring his ankle against Lyon on December 13, had previously avoided commenting on reports about his supposed party in the seaside town of Mangaratiba.

Rio de Janeiro state prosecutors have opened an investigation into the reports.

They said Neymar denied on Thursday hosting any party in Mangaratiba, according to news site G1.

The footballer has reportedly traveled to Santa Catarina state in southern Brazil to ring in the New Year there.

His press office did not immediately respond to questions from AFP on his plans.

Brazil has the second-highest death toll in the pandemic, after the United States, with nearly 195,000 people killed by Covid-19.

Neymar In New Controversy Over New Year Party Rumors

Football Star, Neymar, and his family. PHOTO: Instagram/@neymarjr

 

Brazil’s star footballer Neymar is at the center of a new controversy storm after several Brazilian media reported that he’s organizing a huge New Year’s Eve party despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Acelmo Goes, a columnist for the O Globo newspaper, claimed that the Paris Saint-Germain forward is hosting 500 people for a week-long party at his luxury beachside mansion near Rio de Janeiro that started on Saturday and will last until New Year’s Day.

Brazil has suffered the second-largest number of Covid-19 related deaths in the world with more than 191,000, while 7.4 million people have contracted the virus.

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Neymar, who is no stranger to controversies over his parties, allegedly even installed soundproofing equipment to try to avoid bothering his neighbors.

Leo Dias, a columnist for the Metropoles website who is renowned for his scoops on celebrities, even named the artists due to perform at Neymar’s party, such as Ludmilla and Wesley Safadao.

Guests’ mobile phones are allegedly due to be confiscated on the door to prevent any evidence from finding its way onto social media.

Representatives for Neymar denied the rumors, releasing a statement saying there would be “no party” in Neymar’s villa.

A specialist events agency, Agencia Fabrica, released a statement confirming it had been contracted for a New Year’s event in the Costa Verde region where Neymar’s villa is located “that will host around 150 people … while respecting all the health rules determined by the public bodies.”

Neymar’s villa is in Mangaratiba, a small town in an area of luxury seaside resorts in Rio de Janeiro state.

The local town hall has pleaded with its 41,000 inhabitants not to hold end-of-year parties and has erected barriers to prevent people from congregating.

“We don’t have any information about this party,” the town hall said in a statement sent to AFP.

Neymar, who hasn’t played since December 13 when he injured his ankle against Lyon, hasn’t commented on the party and in recent days has posted pictures of his family on social media without commentaries.

His Mangaratiba mansion is located on a 10,000m2 plot of land that includes a heliport, sports pitches, spa, sauna, massage parlor, gymnasium and dining areas.

It’s where he previously spent his time recovering from injuries and also where he headed from March to June when the coronavirus was raging in France leading to the suspension of professional football.

AFP

Neymar Set For PSG Return In January

Paris Saint-Germain’s Brazilian forward Neymar reacts after being injured during the French L1 football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Lyon (OL), on December 13, 2020 at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP)

 

Neymar is “expected” to make his return from an ankle injury next month, Paris Saint-Germain announced on Saturday.

PSG coach Thomas Tuchel had said he was hoping Neymar might be fit to play a part in Sunday’s clash with Ligue 1 leaders Lille, but the Parisians said in a statement the Brazil attacker would be out until the New Year.

“There is some bruising to the bone and he continues to undergo treatment at the training ground,” the French champions said in a statement.

“He is expected to make his return in January.”

That would see the world’s most expensive player return comfortably in time for PSG’s Champions League last-16 first leg against Barcelona on February 16.

Neymar, who has scored nine goals this season, suffered a sprained ankle after a challenge from Lyon midfielder Thiago Mendes earlier this month.

PSG Wait On Neymar Return Ahead Of Lille Showdown

Paris Saint-Germain’s Brazilian forward Neymar celebrates after scoring a penalty kick during the UEFA Champions League Group H second-leg football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and RB Leipzig at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris on November 24, 2020.
FRANCK FIFE / AFP

 

Paris Saint-Germain are hoping to have Neymar back in time for their top-of-the-table clash at Lille on Sunday, as the Brazil superstar looks to have recovered quicker than expected from what looked like a bad ankle injury.

Coach Thomas Tuchel said “for Neymar we will do everything” after Wednesday’s 2-0 win over struggling Lorient, which put the champions second and keeps them just a point behind Ligue 1 leaders Lille.

Neymar had already revealed the injury, which came after a rough Thiago Mendes tackle during last weekend’s 1-0 home loss to Lyon, was not as bad as initially thought.

However such a speedy return still seemed unlikely until Tuchel revealed he could yet feature at the Stade Pierre Mauroy.

“I can’t say ‘No, he’s not playing against Lille’. It is possible. We can try, we will try everything,” Tuchel said.

His return would be a huge boost to PSG’s morale after a strife-ridden opening few months of the season which has led to speculation over Tuchel’s future.

A win on Sunday would put the capital city side back on top of the pile after they moved above Lyon in the midweek round of fixtures, with a five-match winning-streak for Rudi Garcia’s side coming to an end with a dramatic 2-2 draw with Brest.

PSG’s other major title rivals Marseille host Reims on Saturday as they lurk five points back but with a game in hand.

Fourth-placed Marseille go into the weekend having lost ground in the title race following a 2-1 defeat at Rennes, who have won two on the bounce after a miserable run in which they lost seven of their previous eight in all competitions.

There appears to be some tension in the Marseille camp after coach Andre Villas-Boas launched an attack on a journalist at French newspaper La Provence.

According to witnesses the Portuguese boss targeted the reporter with threats of “I’ll get you” and criticised their work during the post-match press conference.

The row, apparently over an article which slammed Villas-Boas’ career record in the Champions League following their dismal effort in this year’s competition, then carried on outside Rennes’ Roazhon Park as the reporter and coach faced each other down.

Lille, meanwhile, seem confident they can maintain their slight hold on the summit and make this a true title race in a league now used to PSG dominance.

The northern outfit seem to be unworried by a potential change in ownership, with president Gerard Lopez saying he would “completely withdraw” from the club if a bid from a Luxembourg investment fund is accepted.

“Both teams are tired, Paris might have more quality but in one game everything is there to play for,” said coach Christophe Galtier.

Player to watch: Yusuf YaziciTurkey’s Yazici continued his impressive recent form on Wednesday when he scored the opening goal in Lille’s 2-0 win at Dijon.

The 23-year-old showed the composure that has seen him score five times in just three Ligue 1 starts, and six in as many Europa League appearances, when he slotted home Zeki Celik’s cutback in the 19th minute.

Yazici signed for Lille in the summer of 2019 but this has become the attacker’s breakout season, his two hat-tricks at Sparta Prague and AC Milan helping his side reach the Europa League last 32, where they will face four-time European champions Ajax.

Key stats5 – goals that Yusuf Yazici has scored this Ligue 1 season

12 – the number of games Lyon have played since last losing

4 – PSG have already lost to Lens, Marseille, Monaco and Lyon so far this season

Fixtures (all times GMT)Saturday

Metz v Lens (1600), Marseille v Reims (1800), Nice v Lyon (2000)

Sunday

Brest v Montpellier (1200), Dijon v Monaco, Strasbourg v Bordeaux, Nantes v Angers, Saint-Etienne v Nimes (all 1400), Lorient v Rennes (1600), Lille v Paris Saint-Germain (2000)

Neymar Stretchered Off In PSG’s Defeat To Lyon

Paris Saint-Germain's Brazilian forward Neymar (C) is evacuated on a stretcher during the French L1 football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Lyon (OL), on December 13, 2020 at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris. FRANCK FIFE / AFP
Paris Saint-Germain’s Brazilian forward Neymar (C) is evacuated on a stretcher during the French L1 football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Lyon (OL), on December 13, 2020 at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris. FRANCK FIFE / AFP

 

Paris Saint-Germain surrendered top spot in Ligue 1 after losing 1-0 at home to Lyon on Sunday but potentially suffered a more devastating blow as an anguished Neymar was stretchered off with an ankle injury.

Tino Kadewere’s first-half goal secured Lyon a seventh win in eight matches as they moved level with Lille, who took over first place earlier in the day following a 2-1 home victory over Bordeaux.

PSG dropped to third after losing for the fourth time in 14 games this season, but the far greater concern will be the health of Neymar after his ankle appeared to twist awkwardly under a challenge from Thiago Mendes in stoppage time.

The Lyon midfielder was sent off for the tackle following a VAR review while a distraught Neymar, in considerable pain, was taken off on a stretcher having immediately signalled for medical assistance.

“He’s with the physio and the doctors and we have to wait for the tests tomorrow (Monday),” PSG coach Thomas Tuchel told French broadcaster Telefoot.

READ ALSO: No Place For Racism In Football Or Life – Neymar

Lyon’s first win away to PSG since October 2007, the last season they won the Ligue 1 crown, provided fresh hope of a genuine title race this term with the top five teams separated by just three points.

“We defended well, we destroyed their strength, and then played well enough in attack to score at least once,” said Lyon coach Rudi Garcia.

PSG trail the leading duo by a point with Marseille, who have two games in hand on their rivals, another point back in fourth alongside Montpellier.

“Losing top spot doesn’t worry me. But we didn’t have the right approach and I have a problem with that,” said Tuchel.

“We were never mentally ready to play this match. We were shot mentally. We never found our rhythm either. We didn’t play with enough concentration or discipline.

“It was a big step backwards after the last match. I’m surprised. I was expecting a very high level.”

With Kylian Mbappe rested from the start, Moise Kean partnered Neymar in attack following the Brazilian’s hat-trick in the midweek 5-1 Champions League win against Istanbul Basaksehir — a game that was completed 24 hours later than planned after an unprecedented anti-racism protest.

Kimpembe error punished

However, it was Lyon, without any European commitments this season, who took the lead on 35 minutes after a loose pass under pressure from PSG captain Presnel Kimpembe.

Karl Toko Ekambi collected the ball in the PSG half and immediately picked out Kadewere who steadied himself before sliding low beyond Keylor Navas for the Zimbabwe international’s fifth goal of the campaign.

Alessandro Florenzi drew a sharp save from Anthony Lopes before half-time while a thumping effort from Lucas Paqueta called Navas into action midway through the second half, just after the introduction of Mbappe.

Paris Saint-Germain's Brazilian forward Neymar (L) is tackled by Lyon's Dutch defender Kenny Tete during the French L1 football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Lyon (OL), on December 13, 2020 at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris. FRANCK FIFE / AFP
Paris Saint-Germain’s Brazilian forward Neymar (L) is tackled by Lyon’s Dutch defender Kenny Tete during the French L1 football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Lyon (OL), on December 13, 2020 at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris. FRANCK FIFE / AFP

 

After Navas kept out an attempt from Lyon substitute Bruno Guimaraes, Mbappe had a late chance to rescue a point for PSG but shot wide from the edge of the area in time added on before Neymar’s unwelcome injury.

Portugal defender Jose Fonte, who turns 37 later this month, scored the winner for Lille with a bullet header just before half-time against Bordeaux.

Jonathan Bamba’s exquisite curling strike gave Lille the lead on 16 minutes at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy before Toma Basic levelled from a Hatem Ben Arfa corner.

Lille travel to bottom side Dijon in midweek before the visit of defending champions PSG next Sunday in what could be a defining week for a club chasing a first league title since 2011.

“I don’t think we can fight with Paris for the title. We need to fight to pick up points and stay at the top,” said Lille coach Christophe Galtier, keen to temper expectations.

 

AFP

No Place For Racism In Football Or Life – Neymar

Paris Saint-Germain's Brazilian forward Neymar looks on during the UEFA Champions League group H football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Istanbul Basaksehir FK at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris, on December 9, 2020. FRANCK FIFE / AFP
Paris Saint-Germain’s Brazilian forward Neymar looks on during the UEFA Champions League group H football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Istanbul Basaksehir FK at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris, on December 9, 2020. FRANCK FIFE / AFP

 

Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar defended the decision of his team and Istanbul Basaksehir to walk off the pitch in this week’s Champions League match following alleged racist remarks by an official, as the world’s most expensive player stated racism “has no place in football or in life”.

“What happened was unacceptable. In the times we live in we cannot accept differences being made like that about colour or race,” Neymar told French broadcaster RMC Sport after scoring a hat-trick when the game was restarted on Wednesday, with PSG winning 5-1.

“It has no place in football, or in life, or in any sport, so our attitude was perfect.”

The match in Paris was halted in the 14th minute on Tuesday as a row erupted amid accusations the Romanian fourth official had used a racist term to describe Basaksehir’s Cameroonian assistant coach, Pierre Webo.

With Basaksehir refusing to come back out unless the official was removed, the game was played to a finish 24 hours later with a new refereeing team.

Meanwhile, European football’s governing body UEFA has opened an investigation into the unprecedented incidents.

“Sometimes in extreme circumstances these things need to be done to see if the world can change a little,” said Neymar, who together with other players took a knee before the restart on Wednesday in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

‘The fault of one person’

PSG had already qualified for the last 16 before the restart, but they needed to beat Basaksehir to finish top of their group and Kylian Mbappe scored their other two goals in a one-sided game.

Neymar added: “Yesterday I wasn’t very happy because we had prepared ourselves for the game, and so to go back home, then get the body warmed up again for the next day, is very hard, but we all accepted it. We all decided to do it together.”

Meanwhile, Basaksehir coach Okan Buruk accused the Romanian referee, Ovidiu Hategan, of failing to properly manage the situation after the alleged comments made by the fourth official, Sebastian Coltescu.

“The fourth official used an unacceptable word to Pierre Achille Webo. The referee should have dealt with the situation properly but didn’t. We had to show that we were with Webo,” Buruk said.

“The players decided to stop. Some of them didn’t want to come back out. We are a team and we had to stick together.”

He added: “UEFA did the right thing by making it possible to play the next day.

“Webo was upset. We all gave him our support, but it’s someone else who should feel bad and that is the person who used the words. He is the guilty one.

“We have to show that we can all live together. Humanity is the most important thing.”

The incident drew a reaction from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is understood to have close links to the Turkish champions.

However, Buruk played down suggestions that the row could spill over into a diplomatic issue.

“There are no problems between Turkey and Romania. It is the fault of one person, not an entire country,” he said.

AFP

Mbappe Scores 100th Goal For PSG

Paris Saint-Germain’s French forward Kylian Mbappe (L) celebrates after scoring a goal during the French L1 football match between Montpellier Herault (MHSC) and Paris Saint Germain (PSG) at the Mosson Stadium in Montpellier, southern France, on December 05, 2020. PHOTO: Pascal GUYOT / AFP

 

Kylian Mbappe scored his 100th goal for Paris Saint-Germain after making a late appearance as a substitute for the Ligue 1 leaders in Saturday’s 3-1 victory at in-form Montpellier.

With Neymar preserved ahead of next week’s crucial Champions League clash against Istanbul Basaksehir and Mbappe rested from the start, Colin Dagba’s first career goal gave PSG the lead on 33 minutes.

English forward Stephy Mavididi levelled before half-time at the Stade de la Mosson, the ball just crossing the line despite the best efforts of Dagba and Keylor Navas.

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Moise Kean restored the advantage for PSG on 77 minutes after Rafinha triggered a quick counter, hitting a magnificent solo goal for his fifth in seventh league games.

The Italy international was then replaced by Mbappe, who wrapped up the victory in stoppage time as he brought up his century of goals in his 137th game for PSG, tapping in a Layvin Kurzawa cross.

“I’ve been wanting to score for a few matches, it’s a bit of a release,” Mbappe told Canal Plus.

“When I signed here I wouldn’t even had thought of scoring three goals,” he beamed. “(A hundred) was part of a distant goal.”

Mbappe is joint-fourth on the list of PSG’s all-time top scorers, level with Dominique Rocheteau and trailing Pauleta (109), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (156) and Edinson Cavani (200).

“I’m feeling better and better, stringing matches together is going to allow me to get fully fit,” he said.

“When I came here, I said that I wanted to get a lot better and you don’t do that in a year.

“It’s been three and a half years, I’ve experienced a lot of things here. I’ve had some less good moments, but the club has always supported me.”

Defending champions PSG pulled four points clear of Marseille at the top as they avoided going three league games without victory for the first time since April 2019.

Montpellier, without top scorer Andy Delort after he tested positive for coronavirus for the second time in three months, saw their hopes of dislodging the leaders dashed as their four-match winning run came to an end.

Earlier, Rennes crashed to a sixth defeat in seven matches as they lost 2-0 at home to Lens, three days being dumped out of Europe.

Teenage striker Arnaud Kalimuendo, on loan from PSG, hit the opener on 27 minutes and Ignatius Ganago sealed the victory late in the second half.

AFP

‘I Want To Play With Messi Again’, Says Neymar

Paris Saint-Germain's Brazilian forward Neymar celebrates after he scores his team's third goal during the UEFA Champions League group H football match between Manchester United and Paris Saint Germain at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on December 2, 2020. Oli SCARFF / AFP
Paris Saint-Germain’s Brazilian forward Neymar celebrates after he scores his team’s third goal during the UEFA Champions League group H football match between Manchester United and Paris Saint Germain at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on December 2, 2020. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Neymar dropped a bombshell on Wednesday as he followed up scoring twice for Paris Saint-Germain in their 3-1 Champions League win over Manchester United by revealing his desire to reunite with Lionel Messi next season.

The Brazilian enjoyed four successful seasons alongside the six-time Ballon d’Or winner at Barcelona before making a world record 222 million euro ($264m) move to the French capital in 2017.

“It’s what I most want, to enjoy being with him on the field again,” Neymar, whose contract at PSG runs until 2022, told ESPN.

“I want to play with him for sure, next year we have to do it.”

Neymar was heavily linked with a return to Barcelona in 2019, but the Catalan giants were unable to fund an acceptable offer for PSG.

Barca have had to agree salary cuts worth 122 million euros in players’ salaries this season to help offset the financial hole left by the coronavirus pandemic and are highly unlikely to be in a position to bring Neymar back next year.

Instead, it is Messi who could be on the move as the Argentine is out of contract at the end of the season and publicly expressed his desire to leave in August.

Then Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu would not free Messi from the final year of his deal at the Camp Nou, but Bartomeu has since resigned with new presidential elections scheduled for January 24.

Manchester City were the favourites to land Messi’s signature earlier this year, but PSG could be an alternative for a player who will turn 34 at the end of this season.

“He can play in my position, there is no problem,” Neymar joked. “Take me out.”

Neymar’s partnership with Kylian Mbappe is yet to deliver PSG’s first ever Champions League title, but the French champions should have another shot in this season’s knockout stages after a vital victory in Manchester.

Thomas Tuchel’s men are now level on points with United and RB Leipzig with one game in Group H to come.

But PSG are in the driving seat as they host already-eliminated Istanbul Basaksehir next week, while United travel to Germany needing a point to reach the last 16.

 

AFP

Champions League: Neymar Double Downs Man United, Gives PSG Lifeline

Paris Saint-Germain’s Brazilian forward Neymar celebrates after he scores his team’s third goal during the UEFA Champions League group H football match between Manchester United and Paris Saint Germain at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on December 2, 2020.  AFP

 

Paris Saint-Germain took a huge step towards avoiding an embarrassing early exit from the Champions League and left Manchester United with work to do to reach the last 16 as Neymar scored twice in a 3-1 win at Old Trafford.

PSG, United and RB Leipzig are now all tied on nine points at the top of Group H with one game to go.

But the French champions are in the driving seat as they host eliminated Istanbul Basaksehir on Tuesday, while United need a point when they travel to Germany.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men were left to rue a host of huge chances early in the second half with the match poised at 1-1 after Marcus Rashford cancelled out Neymar’s early opener.

“We had some big chances, big moments and that’s the difference when you get to the big games,” said Solskjaer.

However, the United boss’ decision not to replace Fred before he was sent off seconds after Marquinhos scored PSG’s second was a naive mistake which cost his side.

The Brazilian midfielder had been lucky to escape a red card before half-time when he was only shown a yellow card after a headbutt on Leandro Paredes was reviewed.

“Fred shouldn’t put his head towards him, it’s either nothing or a red card, he’s a bit lucky to stay on,” conceded Solskjaer, who admitted to considering making a change at half-time.

“We spoke about staying calm, staying on your feet and the second one is nowhere near a yellow card.”

Leipzig’s late winner in a 4-3 thrillier in Istanbul earlier on Wednesday piled the pressure on PSG to win and keep their fate in their own hands going into matchday six.

The visitors started brightly in response and went in front after just six minutes when Neymar pounced on Kylian Mbappe’s deflected shot to drill low past David de Gea.

Fred’s first lucky escape came on 24 minutes as Italian referee Daniele Orsato decided a yellow card was sufficient after reviewing the headbutt incident.

Tuchel was furious when United needed just eight more minutes to make the most of that reprieve when Rashford’s shot took a wicked deflection off Danilo to wrong-foot Keylor Navas.

Fortunate Fred 

Fred was fortunate again moments later when he trod on Paredes, but it was the Argentine who was booked.

But if PSG’s luck was out before the break, they got the let-off they needed at the start of the second period through United’s profligacy.

Anthony Martial somehow blazed over with the goal at his mercy after brilliant work from Rashford and Edinson Cavani.

Cavani is PSG’s record goalscorer after scoring 200 times in seven seasons at the Parc des Princes, but the Uruguayan was allowed to leave for free when his contract expired in June.

The 33-year-old was inches away from exacting revenge with a delicate chip over Navas that came back off the crossbar before Marquinhos’s brave block denied Martial again.

Tuchel’s future as PSG boss would be plunged into doubt by a failure to progress from the group stage, but he made a telling contribution with a change of system to shore up his side’s susceptibility on the counter-attack as Ander Herrera and Mitchel Bakker were introduced.

De Gea produced an incredible save from Bakker low to his left, but that only delayed PSG retaking the lead by a few seconds as, from the resulting corner, the ball broke for Marquinhos to prod home from close range.

“We knew the little details would make the difference,” Marquinhos told RMC Sport. “They didn’t take their chances, we took ours and we are delighted tonight.

“In the second half, we had the courage and personality to play and take risks. The coach gave us confidence, telling us to take risks. It worked and we are really pleased.”

Less than a minute after the goal, United were finally down to 10 men as Fred’s luck ran out despite playing the ball before tripping Herrera.

United still came close to salvaging the point they needed to qualify as substitute Paul Pogba’s sweetly struck volley flew just over before Bruno Fernandes headed too close to Navas.

But PSG gained some measure of revenge for their stunning Champions League elimination to United in 2019 by sealing a huge win with a third in stoppage time when Neymar rolled home Rafinha’s cut-back.

AFP