Paris Saint-Germain coach Unai Emery has confirmed that superstar Neymar will be with his teammates ahead of Tuesday’s Coupe de France final against semi-professional third-tier outfit Les Herbiers.
The Ligue 1 champions will clash with the minnows from Vendee at Stade de France and although the Brazil international will not be able to play so soon after his return from his homeland, he will be with the squad in the hours before the match.
“Neymar will continue his training but will be with his teammates on Tuesday,” said Emery at a prematch news conference on Monday. “I have spoken with him but that was nothing to do with the Coupe de France final.”
Emery and captain Thiago Silva faced the media together at Stade de France on the eve of the game and the Spaniard was questioned about a recent interview with SFR Sport, where he revealed that he was dissatisfied by the Brazilian skipper’s first season under his leadership.
“I am happier with Thiago this year than I was last,” Emery elaborated. “His work has been more satisfactory.
“In terms of his work and performance, it has been what we wanted — he is a top player.”
Les Herbiers against PSG is a mismatch of epic proportions but a fitting tribute to the genuine magic of the Coupe de France.
However, Emery was unbothered by the advent of a third-tier side reaching the final against his team and wants his players to show no mercy on the pitch.
“We are going to go for it,” Emery said. “The best way to show respect is to put in a proper performance.
“It is a final. Les Herbiers deserve to be here. That is the beauty of the Coupe de France. The entire village will be there in support — it will be a beautiful final and a lovely day.”
Silva echoed Emery’s words, refusing to take a positive result for granted and insisting that the pressure is on PSG to win convincingly because of the scale of the mismatch.
“Playing against a significantly lower-ranked opponent is always difficult,” Silva said. “You are obliged to win — Les Herbiers are our main opponents here, not ourselves.
“A draw is a catastrophe in this situation but a loss … That would be worse.”
To illustrate how seriously PSG are taking Les Herbiers, Silva revealed that he has asked for videos to analyse the minnow’s attacking threats individually.
“I asked our staff for videos of their attackers to help me prepare,” said the 33-year-old. “It is important to finish the season well.”
“I have been in this position before, in Brazil, playing against the likes of Gremio when in the third division — we must remain conscient of the difficulty of this fixture.
Quizzed on Emery’s constructive criticism at the end of their first season together, Silva acknowledged that the former Sevilla man’s words carried plenty of truth.
“Unai’s interview was normal,” Silva said. “I needed to improve, and he gave me plenty of things to work on. However, I am self-critical anyway.
“It is always motivating to play for somebody like him — we will give 100 percent for him and his staff here.”
Concerning Neymar’s return to training, Silva admitted that his compatriot has found it hard being away from football.
“Neymar is doing fine,” said Silva. “He is progressing very well. He will be with the squad tomorrow. He is suffering while he is unable to play.”
In a surprise move, Hatem Ben Arfa trained with the PSG squad at Stade de France ahead of the clash and could be in line to make a farewell appearance.