Premier League Title Challenge Not Realistic, Tuchel Admits

Chelsea’s German head coach Thomas Tuchel gestures before the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Stamford Bridge in London on January 27, 2021. Frank Augstein / POOL / AFP

 

Chelsea’s new boss, Thomas Tuchel has admitted it is not realistic for the London side to challenge for the Premier League title this season, a few days after he took the reins at Stamford Bridge

“If you are signing for Chelsea you are signing for the hunger of titles,” he noted during his unveiling to the press on Thursday. “You are signing for being competitive in every competition you play. I’m totally aware of that.

“I am here to challenge for every trophy we play for. Realistically this year it is the Champions League and the FA Cup, to speak now about the Premier League title is not realistic.”

Winning DNA

The former Paris Saint-German (PSG) coach who became the 13th Chelsea manager of owner Roman Abramovich’s 17-year reign, however, said it is in the club’s DNA to win trophies. 

READ ALSO: Man Utd Title Hopes Hit By Sheffield United Defeat

“The club makes this very clear in the end — at Chelsea, it is about results,” the 47-year-old who took PSG to their first-ever Champions League final last season, added.

“It is about results for us as managers. We always try to bring in performance, to improve players, increase their value but I’m very realistic, I’m in a club whose DNA it is to win and go for trophies.”

 

Wolverhampton Wanderers’ English defender Max Kilman, Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Belgian midfielder Leander Dendoncker (C) and Chelsea’s Croatian midfielder Mateo Kovacic (R) react at the final whistle during the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Stamford Bridge in London on January 27, 2021. Frank Augstein / POOL / AFP

 

Although a host of coaches were touted to be keen on the Chelsea job following the sack of club legend, Frank Lampard earlier in the week, Tuchel who himself got the hammer at the Parc des Princes last term, admitted it was an easy decision to take up the Chelsea offer. 

“It felt like we should absolutely not miss the chance to be part of the Chelsea family and to compete for titles with the best managers and the best teams,” added the German whose men were held to a barren draw in his first game in charge of the Premier League outfit. “It was a pretty easy choice.”

‘I Am Here To Challenge For Every Trophy’ – Chelsea’s Tuchel

Chelsea’s German head coach Thomas Tuchel (C) meets match officials before the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Stamford Bridge in London on January 27, 2021. (Photo by Richard Heathcote / POOL / AFP)

 

Thomas Tuchel accepts he will be judged on results after becoming the 13th Chelsea manager of owner Roman Abramovich’s 17-year reign in charge of the Premier League club.

The Blues sacked club legend Frank Lampard, who is Chelsea’s all-time top goalscorer, on Monday after a run of five defeats in eight Premier League games.

Tuchel got off to an underwhelming start with a 0-0 draw at home to Wolves on Wednesday, just 24 hours after he was appointed.

The German said a title challenge was not realistic this season with Chelsea 11 points adrift of leaders Manchester City, but wants to challenge for silverware in the FA Cup and Champions League.

“If you are signing for Chelsea you are signing for the hunger of titles,” Tuchel said at his unveiling to the media on Thursday. “You are signing for being competitive in every competition you play. I’m totally aware of that.

“I am here to challenge for every trophy we play for. Realistically this year it is the Champions League and the FA Cup, to speak now about the Premier League title is not realistic.

“The club makes this very clear in the end — at Chelsea it is about results.

READ ALSO: One Third Of Africa Will Be Vaccinated This Year – WHO

“It is about results for us as managers. We always try to bring in performance, to improve players, increase their value but I’m very realistic, I’m in a club whose DNA it is to win and go for trophies.”

Despite the upheaval of coaching changes, no English club have won more trophies than Chelsea during the Abramovich era.

The Russian billionaire bankrolled a £220 million ($300 million) investment in new players during the summer transfer window but Lampard failed to get the best from them.

Tuchel will be expected to get compatriots Timo Werner and Kai Havertz back to the level that lured Chelsea into spending more than £120 million on two of the Bundesliga’s biggest talents.

Despite winning Ligue 1 twice in his two full seasons in charge and leading Paris Saint-Germain to their first-ever Champions League final last season, Tuchel was sacked by the French champions late last year.

The 47-year-old had less than a month out of the game and admitted he faces a very different challenge in the Premier League compared with PSG’s dominance of French football.

But Tuchel is looking forward to doing battle with big names such as Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola and Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp.

“It was the opportunity at one of the biggest clubs in the world, in the most competitive league in the world,” he added.

“It felt like we should absolutely not miss the chance to be part of the Chelsea family and to compete for titles with the best managers and the best teams. It was a pretty easy choice.”

Thomas Tuchel Appointed Chelsea Manager

FILES) In this file photo taken on July 17, 2020 Paris Saint-Germain’s German coach Thomas Tuchel looks on prior to the friendly football match Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) vs Waasland-Beveren at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris. 
Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP

 

Thomas Tuchel was appointed Chelsea manager on an 18-month contract on Tuesday, tasked with hauling the underperforming Blues back into the Champions League next season.

The 47-year-old German replaces the sacked Frank Lampard to become the 13th Chelsea boss since Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich bought the club in 2003.

“I would like to thank Chelsea FC for their confidence in me and my staff,” said Tuchel.

“We all have the greatest respect for Frank Lampard’s work and the legacy he created at Chelsea.

“At the same time, I cannot wait to meet my new team and compete in the most exciting league in football. I am grateful to now be part of the Chelsea family – it feels amazing!”

Tuchel will take charge for the first time when Wolves visit Stamford Bridge in the Premier League on Wednesday.

Lampard, Chelsea’s record goalscorer as a player, was dismissed on Monday after a run of five defeats in eight league games that saw his side slide to ninth in the table, 11 points behind leaders Manchester United.

That was not the return Abramovich expected after a £200 million ($300 million) spending spree in the summer transfer window at a time when most of Europe’s top clubs were scaling back due to the economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.

“It is never easy to change head coach in the middle of the season but we are very happy to secure one of Europe’s best coaches in Thomas Tuchel,” said Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia.

“There is still much to play for and much to achieve, this season and beyond.”

– Werner, Havertz conundrum –

Tuchel’s task will be to get the best out of German compatriots Timo Werner and Kai Havertz, who have struggled to live up to their price tags in their first few months in England.

Despite guiding Paris Saint-Germain to their first Champions League final in August, Tuchel was sacked himself by the French champions last month.

His falling out with PSG sporting director Leonardo played a large part in that and his habit of fractious relations with his employers does not bode well for his prospects at a club with such a famously impatient owner.

“Tuchel will be exposed to exactly the same rules as Frank,” said Lampard’s former England team-mate Gary Neville.

“We’ll be talking about him being let go in the next 18 months to two years, I’m pretty sure of that.”

Tuchel previously held talks with Chelsea over replacing Antonio Conte after he left Dortmund in 2017.

Instead, he ended up in the French capital, where he won back-to-back league titles and ended PSG’s run of crashing out the Champions League in the last 16.

Chelsea face a daunting last-16 tie when the Champions League returns next month against La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid.

Tuchel also has to win round the Chelsea support that have been upset at the handling of Lampard’s dismissal.

“Absolutely gutted. Frank Lampard is, and always will be, a legend of Chelsea Football Club,” the Chelsea Supporters’ Trust tweeted on his departure.

Lampard achieved a fourth-place finish in his first season in charge to secure a place in the Champions League despite a transfer ban and the sale of Eden Hazard to Real Madrid.

However, his Premier League points-per-game average of 1.67 is the lowest for any Chelsea manager in the Abramovich era.

“I am disappointed not to have had the time this season to take the club forward and bring it to the next level,” said Lampard.

-AFP

PSG Confirms Sack Of Tuchel, Pochettino Favourite To Take Over

(FILES) This file photo taken on April 29, 2019 during a press conference at the Camp des Loges in Saint-Germain-en-Laye shows German coach Thomas Tuchel who has been sacked as Paris Saint-Germain’s head coach on December 24, 2020. – The French champions declined to make any comment when contacted by AFP to confirm the reports carried by L’Equipe newspaper and RMC and German tabloid Bild. (Photo by Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP)

 

Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday confirmed the sacking of coach Thomas Tuchel, who had been at the club since July 2018, but did not name his successor.

“After an in-depth analysis of its sporting situation, Paris Saint-Germain decided to terminate Thomas Tuchel’s contract,” the French giants announced in a statement.

Argentinian Mauricio Pochettino, the ex-Tottenham coach and a former PSG player, is widely reported to be the favourite to take over.

Tuchel, whose axing was widely reported but unconfirmed last week, managed PSG 127 times in all competitions, with 95 wins, 12 draws and 20 defeats.

His trophy haul featured two Ligue 1 titles (2019, 2020) as well as the French Cup and French League Cup in 2020.

READ ALSO: Croatia Hit By Powerful 6.4 Earthquake

The 47-year-old German also led the Parisian club to their first ever Champions League final last August, which they lost 1-0 to Bayern Munich.

Despite appearing to be adept at man-managing PSG’s squad of superstar players such as Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, Tuchel reportedly upset the Qatari-backed club after complaining about an apparent lack of recognition at leading PSG to the Champions League final.

“I would like to thank Thomas Tuchel and his staff for all they have contributed to the club,” said PSG chairman Nasser al-Khelaifi.

“Thomas has put a lot of energy and passion into the job, and we will of course remember the good moments we shared together. I wish him all the best for the future.”

Less than three months on from the final defeat to Bayern Munich in Lisbon, Tuchel has become the first PSG coach to leave mid-season since Antoine Kombouare was replaced by Carlo Ancelotti in December 2011.
– Barca date looms –

Tuchel departs the Parc des Princes having secured a last 16 Champions League clash with Barcelona and PSG sitting third in Ligue 1 — a point shy of leaders Lyon — despite being plagued by injuries, suspensions and coronavirus infections.

Should Pochettino take over, his opening match in charge will be January 6’s trip to Saint-Etienne on Ligue 1’s resumption after the winter break.

Then, on February 16, the Argentinian could face his first massive test against his compatriot Lionel Messi’s Barcelona, with the return leg on March 6.

Pochettino was let go after five and a half years at Tottenham in the aftermath of leading the north London side to their first ever appearance in a Champions League final against Liverpool in 2019.

Although he has yet to win any silverware the former PSG defender’s stock is high in managerial circles.

The Parisians will be keen to complete his signing and avoid missing their man who has been linked to the likes of Real Madrid, Manchester United and Barca in recent months.

Importantly, Pochettino, like Tuchel, is at ease in man-managing a dressing room crammed with a galaxy of stars.

Neymar has been at the centre of new controversy this week after Brazilian media reported that he is organising a huge New Year’s Eve party despite the coronavirus pandemic — claims his lawyers have denied.

Pochettino is the son of a farmer from Murphy, in the north of Argentina.

He is known as a stickler for detail, which coupled with his tactical acumen, devotion to an attractive style of play and his popularity amongst Parisian fans, makes him a potentially ideal fit as the new occupant of the PSG dugout.

He would have under his wing several compatriots such as Mauro Icardi, Angel Di Maria and Leandro Paredes.

His anticipated arrival before the winter transfer window will allow him to bring in new faces, potentially one former Spurs charge, Inter Milan’s attacking midfielder Christian Eriksen.

And looking further ahead, given their Argentine ties, Pochettino may be the catalyst for six-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi to start regarding PSG as potential new employers when he is free to move from the Camp Nou at the end of the season.

AFP

PSG Sack Coach Tuchel, Pochettino Likely Replacement

This file photo taken on April 29, 2019 during a press conference at the Camp des Loges in Saint-Germain-en-Laye shows German coach Thomas Tuchel who has been sacked as Paris Saint-Germain's head coach on December 24, 2020. Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP
This file photo taken on April 29, 2019 during a press conference at the Camp des Loges in Saint-Germain-en-Laye shows German coach Thomas Tuchel who has been sacked as Paris Saint-Germain’s head coach on December 24, 2020. Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP

 

Paris Saint-Germain have fired their coach Thomas Tuchel with former Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino lined up as his replacement, according to various media reports on Thursday.

The French champions declined to make any comment when contacted by AFP to confirm the reports carried by L’Equipe newspaper and RMC and German tabloid Bild.

The 47-year-old German arrived at the Parc des Princes on a two-year contract in 2018, and guided PSG to their first ever Champions League final last season.

READ ALSO: Neymar Set For PSG Return In January

But now, if the reports are confirmed, less than three months on from that final against Bayern Munich in Lisbon, Tuchel has become the first PSG coach to leave mid-season since Antoine Kombouare was replaced by Carlo Ancelotti in December 2011.

Pochettino left Tottenham in November 2019, six months after leading them into their first Champions League final.

This season Tuchel has led PSG to a last 16 date with Barcelona in the Champions League, while on the domestic front the Qatari-backed side are one point off the top of the table in Ligue 1.

 

AFP

Injured Neymar To Return End Of November, Says Tuchel

(File Photo) Paris Saint-Germain’s Brazilian forward Neymar receives medical treatment at the Basaksehir Fatih Terim Stadium in Istanbul. AFP

 

Paris Saint-Germain coach Thomas Tuchel said on Friday he expects Neymar to be sidelined until the international break after injuring his thigh in Wednesday’s Champions League win in Istanbul.

Brazil forward came off just 25 minutes into PSG’s 2-0 victory over Turkish champions Istanbul Basaksehir and will likely miss his team’s next three games.

“I don’t think it’s possible he will play” for the national team, said Tuchel.

“If he plays that means he’s not injured, and that’s a bad message. The news for me is that he will return after the break.”

Neymar has been called up to his country’s squad for 2022 World Cup qualifiers against Venezuela and Uruguay on November 14 and 17. He scored a hat-trick in a 4-2 win over Peru earlier this month.

He will miss Saturday’s trip to Nantes in Ligue 1, the Champions League clash with RB Leipzig next week and the visit of third-placed Rennes on November 7.

PSG go to Monaco on November 20 following the international break.

“With Ney, we’re sad because he has a small adductor injury,” said Tuchel, who is already without a number of key players.

Mauro Icardi, Julian Draxler and Leandro Paredes are unavailable for the match against Nantes, while Angel Di Maria is still suspended.

Tuchel is hopeful Icardi and Paredes can return on Wednesday for the RB Leipzig game.

“I really hope they’re with us at training on Monday. We have to accept they can play with just one session before,” he said.

“Normally I would say they’re not ready for the Champions League, but in this situation perhaps they have to play.”

AFP

PSG Hopeful Of Neymar’s Fitness For Dortmund Clash

Paris Saint-Germain’s Brazilian forward Neymar reacts during the French L1 football match against Lille at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris on November 22, 2019. FRANCK FIFE / AFP

 

Paris Saint-Germain coach Thomas Tuchel on Friday said he was “sure” that Neymar would recover from his rib injury in time to play some part in the French club’s Champions League last-16 first leg against Borussia Dortmund next Tuesday.

The world’s most expensive player has been out of action with the problem since the win over Montpellier on February 1 and could miss Saturday’s game against Amiens.

But Tuchel insisted that Neymar would be fit for the clash at Signal Iduna Park.

“Whether or not he plays on Saturday (against Amiens), he will be in Dortmund, I’m sure of it, but without being in the best shape he was in two weeks ago,” said the former Dortmund boss.

“But he will help us. I am sure and convinced of that.”

Neymar missed last season’s surprise Champions League last-16 defeat by Manchester United with a foot injury, and also sat out the second leg of the loss to Real Madrid at the same stage of the competition in 2018.

PSG have still not reached the Champions League semi-finals since their Qatari owners took over in 2011.

AFP

Neymar Facing Fitness Battle In Dortmund Tie, Says Tuchel

FILES) In this file photo taken on May 4, 2019 Paris Saint-Germain’s Brazilian forward Neymar looks on during the French L1 football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and OGC Nice at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris.  AFP

 

Paris Saint-Germain’s Neymar is facing a fitness battle to feature in next week’s Champions league last 16 first leg tie at Borussia Dortmund, coach Thomas Tuchel said on Wednesday.

The world’s most expensive player has missed three matches having been sidelined with a rib injury since the victory over Montpellier on February 2.

“I can’t say that he will be 100% to play against Borussia Dortmund,” Tuchel said after the 6-1 French Cup quarter-final hammering of Dijon.

PSG will wait until the last possible moment before making a decision on the Brazilian’s chances of facing Amiens in Ligue 1 at the weekend.

“We will discuss and decide on Friday, the latest possible time to do so. We can’t risk his fitness,” Tuchel added.

The 28-year-old Neymar, who joined PSG in 2017 for 222 million euros ($250 million at the time) missed last season’s defeat to Manchester United at the same stage of the Champions League with a foot injury.

Neymar’s team-mates Marquinhos, Presnel Kimpembe, Marco Verratti and Idrissa Gueye also were unavailable for the midweek cup victory and are likely sit out Saturday’s league match at Amiens.

“We aren’t going to take risks against Amiens, it’s clear. We will have a strong team, but if we have little doubts, we won’t take risks,” Tuchel said.

The Parisians have never got further than the quarter-finals in the Champions League and travel to Dortmund on Tuesday for the first leg of the last 16 clash.

AFP

‘Nothing Personal’, Tuchel Plays Down Rift With Mbappe

France’s forward Kylian Mbappe arrives for a training session in Clairefontaine-en-Yvelines, southwest of Paris on October 7, 2019 ahead of the Euro 2020 qualifying football match between Iceland and France. Christophe ARCHAMBAULT / AFP

 

Paris Saint-Germain coach Thomas Tuchel on Monday attempted to play down a touchline spat with Kylian Mbappe which overshadowed the French champions’ big weekend win over Montpellier.

“There is nothing personal between him and me. These things happen,” said Tuchel after Mbappe reacted angrily to being substituted midway through the second half of PSG’s 5-0 victory at the Parc des Princes, with Mauro Icardi taking his place.

“It was between a player who does not want to come off and a coach who had his reasons for doing something, and who wanted to give a game to players who deserved it.”

After Saturday’s match, Tuchel admitted that the reaction of Mbappe “doesn’t look good” and pointed out that: “This is football, not tennis, and you have to respect everyone.”

The 21-year-old World Cup winner, who had scored his 14th league goal of the season in the victory, exchanged words with Tuchel as he came off, and then stormed to his seat on the bench, throwing away a training top in disgust.

Tuchel said he discussed the matter again at training on Sunday, with the player and with Leonardo, the club’s sporting director.

“I spoke about it yesterday with Leo, of course, and with the squad, as we generally do. But what I said will remain in the dressing room,” added Tuchel, speaking before PSG return to league action on Tuesday away to Nantes.

Returning to the incident, he added: “We had the game wrapped up, and it was a chance to take off Pablo (Sarabia) and Kylian, and put on Mauro and ‘Edi’ (Cavani), who deserved to get some minutes.

“I know it is hard to accept for some players, but these are sporting matters that they should be able to understand.”

Neymar birthday ‘not the best’ preparation 

With PSG returning to action in midweek, and also having a Champions League clash with Borussia Dortmund looming ever closer on the horizon, Tuchel could also be excused for being less than impressed with Neymar’s latest off-field antics.

The Brazilian — who sported a pink hair-do in the win against Montpellier — organised a lavish celebration ahead of his 28th birthday at a Parisian nightclub in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower on Sunday, including an all-white dress code.

Tuchel insisted that the event, to which Neymar invited all his team-mates, would not have an influence on his team selection for Tuesday’s trip to face a Nantes side who sit ninth in the table.

The Brazilian, however, will not be risked due to a rib complaint, the club said late on Monday.

“I always protect my players, and I really love my team. With this party, I accept that it is a bit difficult to protect the players, but the context is not simply black or white,” Tuchel said.

“Is it the best way to prepare for a match? No, clearly not. Is it the worst thing in the world? No.

“It is a shame because we are giving people the chance to speak badly of us. We need to adapt to the situation, but I am not going to leave a player on the bench or at home because they went out and celebrated.”

PSG, who are 12 points clear of Marseille at the Ligue 1 summit, do have defensive injury problems just now, though, with Marquinhos, Thiago Silva, Juan Bernat and Colin Dagba all out of Tuesday’s game.

Midweek fixtures in Ligue 1 (kick-offs 1800 GMT unless stated)

Tuesday

Lille v Rennes, Monaco v Angers, Nantes v Paris Saint-Germain (2005 GMT)

Wednesday

Brest v Bordeaux, Lyon v Amiens, Montpellier v Metz, Nimes v Dijon, Reims v Nice, Toulouse v Strasbourg, Saint-Etienne v Marseille (2000 GMT)

Neymar Ready For Toulouse Clash, Says Tuchel

Tuchel Says PSG Need New Faces For Champions League
Paris Saint-Germain’s German coach Thomas Tuchel/ AFP

 

Paris Saint-Germain coach Thomas Tuchel said Neymar is “ready” for Sunday’s Ligue 1 game but whether he plays depends on developments in the Brazilian’s bid to leave the club.

The 27-year-old is angling for a return to Spain but reports this week suggest PSG have rejected an offer from Real Madrid of 100 million euros ($111 million) plus players.

Neymar arrived amid deafening fanfare from Barcelona two years ago as the world’s most expensive player in a 222 million euros deal.

Barca’s own attempt to bring him back to the Camp Nou on loan with an obligation to buy for 160 million euros at the end of the season has also been reportedly rejected in Paris.

READ ALSO: Abraham’s Double Fire Chelsea To First Win Under Lampard

Tuchel toyed with reporters on Saturday when asked if his wantaway forward would figure for the first time since injuring his ankle at the end of May.

“He can play (against Toulouse) if the situation between him and the club is clear…..today it’s not clear, perhaps tomorrow it will be.”

Pressed, the German added that Neymar was “ready to play” but that the final decision rested with the club’s sporting director.

“Perhaps you have to speak to Leonardo,” he suggested.

“Neymar’s had a good week (training) with all the squad, a week with a lot of work and intensity.”

The transfer window closes in France, Spain and Italy on September 2, meaning time is fast running out for a deal to be done.

AFP

PSG Coach Tuchel Extends Deal To 2021

Tuchel Says PSG Need New Faces For Champions League
Paris Saint-Germain’s German coach Thomas Tuchel reacts during the UEFA Champions League Group C football match between Paris Saint-Germain and SSC Napoli at the Parc des Princes stadium, in Paris, on October 24, 2018. Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP

 

Paris Saint-Germain coach Thomas Tuchel has extended his deal with the French Ligue 1 champions through to June 2021, the club announced on Saturday.

The 45-year-old German took over in June 2018 and despite winning Ligue 1 has come under scrutiny after the Parisian club’s defeat to Manchester United in the Champions League last 16.

The news cuts short speculation that PSG’s Qatari owners would fire Tuchel and hire outgoing Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri.

“I’m delighted to extend my contract and commitment to Paris Saint-Germain,” Tuchel said.

“I’d like to thank the chairman and the whole club for their trust in me and my staff. This only reinforces my ambition to bring this team to the very top through hard work,” he told the club website

“I’m also very touched by the backing of our supporters, and I’m sure that the best is yet to come for our club.”

Nasser al-Khelaifi, Paris Saint-Germain chairman and CEO, praised Tuchel’s energy and modus operandi.

“For a year now, Thomas has been bringing fantastic energy to the daily life of the club, not only for the players, but for the whole of Paris Saint-Germain,” the Qatari said.

“We are delighted to be able to rely on his qualities on a long-term basis.”

Tuchel was appointed last year on a two-year deal to succeed Unai Emery. He had been widely praised for his work at the Parc des Princes, but another elimination from the Champions League in the first knockout round had raised questions.

PSG had been desperate to make progress in Europe after being knocked out of the Champions League last 16 in back-to-back seasons under Emery.

They looked on course to reach the quarter-finals after a 2-0 win away to United in the first leg, but a 3-1 home loss at the Parc des Princes knocked them out on away goals.

The nature of their defeat, especially coming two years after their capitulation against Barcelona at the same stage, has seen PSG widely labelled as bottlers, incapable of dealing with the tension on the big stage.

AFP

Tuchel Says PSG Need New Faces For Champions League

Paris Saint-Germain’s German coach Thomas Tuchel reacts during the UEFA Champions League Group C football match between Paris Saint-Germain and SSC Napoli at the Parc des Princes stadium, in Paris, on October 24, 2018. Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP

 

Paris Saint-Germain coach Thomas Tuchel has admitted that signing a top-class midfielder remains “a priority” for the French giants after their weaknesses were exposed in another below-par performance in the Champions League.

PSG snatched a 2-2 draw at home against Napoli in midweek thanks to Angel di Maria’s injury-time goal, but before that, they were outmuscled in the centre of the pitch.

Tuchel’s team also disappointed in a 3-2 defeat at Liverpool last month, and their hopes of reaching the knockout rounds are in the balance.

Those games have exposed a lack of strength in depth in midfield, with PSG missing out on targets such as Fabinho and Axel Witsel in the recent past — that duo ended up joining Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund respectively.

At times this season, Brazilian defender Marquin has been used in midfield, where PSG’s only specialists are Adrien Rabiot and Marco Verratti.

But PSG have been hamstrung by UEFA’s Financial Fair Play regulations ever since spending more than 400 million euros ($457m) on Neymar and Kylian Mbappe last year.

“Yes, it is a priority. It was a priority and it still is because it is dangerous to always use Adri and Marco,” said Tuchel on Saturday.

“It is too much at this level. We need a third top-level player to be able to play a 4-3-3.

“You can only play what you have. I am still convinced Marquinhos can play a big, big role for us.”

Speaking ahead of Sunday’s game away to bitter rivals Marseille, Tuchel added: “We are still building, we are still in progress, still on our way up. I truly believe that, I can see a lot of good things in our game.”

– ‘Le Clasico’ –

In contrast to their difficulties in Europe, PSG are utterly dominant in France.

The reigning champions have established a new French record by winning their opening 10 Ligue 1 games this season and are hoping to extend that further when they go to the Velodrome.

Marseille come into the game on the back of a 3-1 defeat against Lazio in the Europa League, hardly ideal preparation for the biggest match in French football.

“For me it’s not so important what Marseille played so far because tomorrow will be different for them,” said Tuchel.

“We have a lot of respect for the quality they have. They are used to playing big matches. They have a lot of individual quality and with their supporters in that kind of stadium, anything can happen.”

There will be a crowd of over 60,000 at the Velodrome for the fixture, usually dubbed ‘Le Clasico’ in French in a nod to the Spanish game between Real Madrid and Barcelona, which will also be played on Sunday.

“Games like this are like an overload of emotions. We need to be very calm and focus on our qualities and objectives,” added Tuchel, who will be without injured captain Thiago Silva.

“We have a long, long series of victories and a big, big chance to make it 11, and to make it 11 in Marseille is one of the biggest challenges you can have in France.”

AFP