Paris Saint-Germain sporting director Leonardo praised the desire of Neymar amid ongoing speculation linking him with an exit from the Ligue 1 champions.

Neymar was desperate to leave PSG during the previous transfer window, however, a return to former club Barcelona did not materialise.

There continue to be doubts over the PSG superstar's future in Paris ahead of the January transfer window.

Leonardo was asked about Neymar after the Brazil international supplied two assists and missed a second-half penalty in Sunday's 4-0 Ligue 1 rout of Saint-Etienne.

"I think Neymar is making a lot of effort in every way and also in terms of state of mind," Leonardo told reporters.

"I think the story we have lived is real, it happened a short time ago, but I see a lot of effort on his part.

"The system also forces him to go back, ditto for Kylian [Mbappe], [Mauro] Icardi too, [Edinson] Cavani always did and Pablo Sarabia and [Angel] Di Maria ... they make themselves available and we also have a balance behind that we are forced to have.

"Coming back to Neymar, he still has a lot to do, but I see a real desire on his part to make himself available."

With the transfer market set to reopen in January, PSG have been linked to Juventus outcast Emre Can – who could swap places with Leandro Paredes.

As speculation intensifies, Leonardo urged for Thomas Tuchel to be left alone over transfers.

"I think I'm going to ask you not to ask the coach questions about the transfer window," he said. "The transfer window is a club issue. I have been in football for a long time, I know the limit of the role of the coach, the president, the communication director and that everyone does their job.

"You have to stop with the coach, leave him alone, talk to him about the technical side of the team. The transfer window is a question of opportunity. This group there, for me, it is complete.

"What is also positive is that we managed to play in Ligue 1 two young kids, [Adil] Aouchiche and [Tanguy] Kouassi and that is nice. In addition I think that these are two players who will complement the workforce with their qualities."

Paris Saint-Germain head coach Thomas Tuchel backed Neymar to score his next penalty, saying the forward was "sad" about his miss against Saint-Etienne.

Neymar hit the post with a second-half penalty in PSG's 4-0 victory in Ligue 1 on Sunday.

It came just days after the Brazilian handed spot-kick duties to Edinson Cavani during a Champions League thrashing of Galatasaray.

But Tuchel still believes in Neymar, who provided two assists in the comfortable league win, from the spot.

"I'm always a little nervous as a coach, that's normal," he told a news conference.

"When he shoots, normally, I'm pretty sure he scores. He's sad because he still wants to score, it was a great opportunity for him.

"But he's going to kick the next penalty, and I'm sure he'll score again."

Already behind to Leandro Paredes' opener, Saint-Etienne were reduced to 10 men when Jean-Eudes Aholou saw red in the 25th minute.

Kylian Mbappe, set up twice by Neymar, scored a brace either side of Mauro Icardi's goal as PSG claimed a fifth straight Ligue 1 win.

"We have defended very well, with great intensity, always together," Tuchel said.

"This is a good time for us, victory is deserved. We had a lot of chances to score. We recovered a lot of balls high up in the opposing field.

"We never stopped defending, even after the red card. It was good, I'm happy. Congratulations to the team."

Lyon star Memphis Depay suffered a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his left knee during Sunday's Ligue 1 loss to Rennes.

Depay, 25, is set to miss the rest of the season and becomes a major doubt for Netherlands' Euro 2020 campaign.

The forward has enjoyed a fine Ligue 1 campaign, scoring nine goals and providing two assists in 13 games, but he faces at least six months out of action.

"It's a very bad evening because we lost and because of the lack of quality. The very bad news is also the injury of Memphis, who could be out for a while," Lyon sporting director Juninho said.

"He's our captain and I'm sad for him."

Making matters worse for Lyon, midfielder Jeff Reine-Adelaide suffered a ruptured ACL in his right knee.

Confirming both injuries, Lyon said in a statement the pair were "unfortunately likely to be unavailable for at least six months".

Lyon are eighth in the Ligue 1 table after two defeats in their past three league matches.

Kylian Mbappe scored twice as Paris Saint-Germain moved seven points clear at the top of the Ligue 1 table with a comfortable 4-0 win away at 10-man Saint-Etienne.

Thomas Tuchel's side were already in front thanks to Leandro Paredes' first goal for the club when their task was made easier by Jean Eudes Aholou's 25th-minute red card.

Mbappe doubled PSG's lead and, though Neymar missed from the penalty spot, PSG did not have to get out of second gear as they extended their winning streak to five Ligue 1 games.

Mauro Icardi netted PSG's third, before Mbappe struck with the last kick of the match to add further gloss to the scoreline.

Saint-Etienne had a chance to take an early lead but Denis Bouanga curled wide, and PSG then opened the scoring in the ninth minute.

A goalmouth scramble saw the ball eventually cleared to Paredes, and his 20-yard volley took a decisive deflection off Wesley Fofana to deceive Stephane Ruffier.

The hosts were reduced to 10 men when Aholou was dismissed for a wild challenge on Paredes, and Mbappe, who earlier had a goal ruled out for offside, made it 2-0 before the break by running on to Neymar's pass to beat Ruffier.

Keylor Navas made a fine save to deny Bouanga following the restart, and Angel di Maria saw a shot come back off the woodwork.

It should have been 3-0 to PSG in the 62nd minute but Neymar hit the post from 12 yards after he was fouled in the box by Mathieu Debuchy.

Icardi converted from close range, though, the striker scoring his eighth Ligue 1 goal since joining on loan from Inter, and a fine finish from Mbappe at the death wrapped up PSG's latest win.


What does it mean? PSG romping to the title

Marseille's draw away to Metz earlier in the weekend enabled PSG to stretch their lead at the top. Another title for Tuchel's men, even before the halfway point of the season, already appears to be a foregone conclusion. PSG have a game in hand over Marseille, too.

70 up for Mbappe

Mbappe netted for the fifth game in a row in all competitions and brought up another milestone to boot. The 20-year-old's first strike took him to 70 Ligue 1 goals and he is the youngest player to reach that figure in 50 years.

Aholou lets his team-mates down

PSG were already a goal up and cruising when Aholou effectively ended his side's chances of earning a positive result. His ridiculous tackle on Paredes gave referee Ruddy Buquet no choice but to show the red card, despite Aholou appearing to be shocked by the decision.

What's next?

Both teams are away in the Coupe de la Ligue last 16 on Wednesday, with PSG at Le Mans as Saint-Etienne head to Nimes. PSG then host Amiens on Saturday, when Saint-Etienne are away to Strasbourg.

Memphis Depay is expected to be out for the rest of the season due to a serious knee injury, says Lyon sporting director Juninho.

Depay was substituted at half-time during Sunday's Ligue 1 defeat at home to Rennes, having initially been hurt in a tussle with Hamari Traore.

The forward sustained a suspected anterior cruciate ligament injury to his left knee that could rule him out of action for several months.

Depay now faces a battle to return in time to feature for Netherlands at Euro 2020.

"We expect Memphis' injury to be quite serious," Juninho told OL TV.

"We expect it to keep him out for the rest of the season. He's our captain and I'm sad for him."

Depay's injury came after they had also lost Jeff Reine-Adelaide to a suspected meniscus problem, with reports suggesting he could be out for around four months.

The former Manchester United man has scored nine goals and assisted a further two in 13 Ligue 1 appearances this season, as well as netting five times in five Champions League games.

Rennes moved up to fourth in the Ligue 1 table thanks to a 1-0 win earned by a late goal scored by 17-year-old Eduardo Camavinga, with Lyon sitting eighth after 18 games.

Lyon coach Rudi Garcia said: "I'm not happy with the results or the performances. The evening is made worse by the fact that we lost Reine-Adelaide and Depay to injury."

Paris Saint-Germain have the best attack in world football, according to Pablo Sarabia.

The Ligue 1 champions boast Neymar, Kylian Mbappe, Mauro Icardi and Edinson Cavani in their forward line, while Sarabia and Angel Di Maria provide further creative options.

PSG have scored 35 goals in 16 Ligue 1 matches this season ahead of Sunday's clash with Saint Etienne, and Sarabia does not believe rival clubs can compete.

"For me, we have the best attack in the world," the Spain international told Telefoot. "There is competition at each position."

But despite their dominance of French football, PSG are yet to excel on the European stage in the modern era.

Thomas Tuchel's men topped Champions League Group A ahead of Real Madrid, netting 17 in six games, but they have collapsed in the knockout stage in recent seasons.

Painful defeats to Barcelona and Manchester United occurred before Sarabia joined PSG from Sevilla in June, but he understands the cost of complacency.

"We know we can't relax in any game, not even for 10 minutes," he said. "In this competition, every detail counts."

Lille midfield playmaker Renato Sanches claims he almost moved to the club's Ligue 1 rivals Paris Saint-Germain in 2018.

The Portugal international joined Lille from Bayern Munich for a club-record €25million in August.

However, the 22-year-old revealed he would have been playing in France sooner had Bayern been prepared to sell him to PSG the previous year.

"It is true that I had a serious offer from PSG," Sanches told Telefoot.

"But my club and my former coach Niko Kovac did not want let me go."

 

Sanches, who signed a four-year contract with Lille, scored his first goal for the club in their 2-1 win over Montpellier in Ligue 1 last Friday.

Paris Saint-Germain boss Thomas Tuchel has refuted suggestions Kylian Mbappe is difficult to manage.

Mbappe appeared to ignore Tuchel when he was substituted towards the end of last weekend's Ligue 1 win away to Montpellier, a 3-1 comeback victory in which the France international scored his team's second goal.

He played the entire game against Galatasaray in midweek – scoring his side's fourth goal in a resounding 5-0 win – and Tuchel is adamant the "smart" 20-year-old does not cause him any problems.

Asked if the forward could be difficult, Tuchel told a media conference: "No - we talk too much about that. Kylian always wants to play. Sometimes he is disappointed and he shows it.

"Perhaps you have the impression that he is not easy to manage. But no. It only lasts a few minutes. He's smart."

PSG travel to Saint-Etienne on Sunday on a run of four consecutive Ligue 1 wins. Tuchel, however, is expecting a tough test against opponents who thrashed Nice 4-1 in their previous home fixture.

"They're a very competitive team that plays with a very big atmosphere behind them; a bit like in Montpellier," he added. "They are a very physical, very compact team, which plays with many systems. 

"It is not clear what to expect. It will be a tough game but we are in good shape and ready to play."

Tuchel confirmed he will be without a number of players for Sunday's trip, too, including Edinson Cavani.

The Uruguayan, who came off the bench to score a penalty against Galatasaray, "felt something in his muscle", according to the PSG head coach.

Cavani is joined on the sidelines by Idrissa Gueye and Presnel Kimpembe, Ander Herrera, Julian Draxler and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, who is missing for personal reasons.

Zinedine Zidane vowed to respect Paris Saint-Germain's relationship with Kylian Mbappe amid rumours of disharmony at Parc des Princes.

Mbappe, 20, was publicly told by Thomas Tuchel to respect coaching decisions after seemingly ignoring the PSG boss when substituted late in last weekend's Ligue 1 win at Montpellier.

French newspaper L'Equipe then claimed the World Cup winner has at times questioned his importance and treatment in comparison to team-mate Neymar.

The report fuelled speculation Mbappe could seek a move to Real Madrid in future but Zidane, who recently admitted to being "in love" with the talented France forward, tried to avoid driving a wedge between player and coach.

"Mbappe plays for PSG. I can't comment on what goes on there behind the scenes," the Madrid boss said on Saturday ahead of his side's LaLiga game against Valencia.

"That would be a lack of respect on my part. You know that I know him very well, but I have to have respect."

Madrid's trip to Mestalla on Sunday marks their final match before El Clasico on Wednesday, a potentially pivotal encounter in the title race.

Zidane insisted his team was focused only on beating Valencia and would not be distracted by the upcoming match at Camp Nou.

"We don't even talk about it," he said. "We are not interested in what will happen on Wednesday. We are only interested in tomorrow's game.

"Valencia are playing very well, getting very good results, they're through to the next stage of the Champions League.

"What we want is to give the best version of ourselves and to try to continue growing as a team. That is what interests us."

Zidane offered no clues over his starting XI but promised Gareth Bale had not fallen out of favour after the winger went unused against Club Brugge in the Champions League.

"I don't think Gareth's role is less important now," he said.

"He is one of us and I will count on him, but I have 25 players and they are all important to me. I follow the squad's progress day by day and everyone puts in. Bale is as important as the others."

Neymar's ongoing legal action against Barcelona has not harmed his relationship with club president Josep Maria Bartomeu, according to the player's father.

Ex-Barca star Neymar initiated a lawsuit against his former employers soon after joining Paris Saint-Germain in 2017.

The dispute over a €26million unpaid loyalty bonus remains before the courts but, on Thursday, Spanish newspaper Mundo Deportivo claimed the 27-year-old had filed a new €3.5m claim.

Neymar Sr addressed the matter in a radio interview and said it was "nothing new" as he expressed confidence a settlement would be reached.

"It's a thing from the past, when Neymar left Barcelona," he told COPE. "We always want to reach an agreement, it is better for everyone. Barcelona are not worried about this and neither are we."

The legal friction further complicated Neymar's recent attempt to secure a move back to Camp Nou, which failed to materialise.

Lionel Messi admitted some at the club opposed the attacker's return but Neymar Sr insisted there was no bad blood between the Selecao star and Bartomeu, who has since ruled out a January approach.

"We have never had a bad relationship with Bartomeu," Neymar Sr said, before adding: "We don't know anything about the future.

"Neymar has a contract with the PSG. He is happy."

Neymar is in his third season with Ligue 1 side PSG, having spent four at LaLiga champions Barca following his arrival in Spain from Santos.

Dani Carvajal would like Kylian Mbappe to leave Paris Saint-Germain for Real Madrid as he believes the world's best players should be at the Santiago Bernabeu.

France star Mbappe continues to be linked with a future move to Madrid and has reportedly stalled on the idea of a new PSG contract in order to make a transfer more likely.

Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane has repeatedly expressed his admiration for the 20-year-old forward, whose relationship with PSG boss Thomas Tuchel has shown signs of strain lately, not least when Mbappe ignored him after being substituted against Montpellier last weekend.

Carvajal would certainly not be against Mbappe moving to the Spanish capital, telling reporters on Thursday: "What we've seen is obvious. He's one of the greats and it would be good [to play with him] because the best have to be here."

Madrid defender Carvajal was speaking ahead of a difficult week for Madrid, who face Valencia at Mestalla on Sunday before next Wednesday's Clasico with Barcelona at Camp Nou.

That fixture was due to take place in October but was rearranged after concern about political unrest in Catalonia.

Security issues remain a concern ahead of the game, while it is expected that a large banner encouraging dialogue over the issue of Catalan independence will be displayed by a protest group in the stands.

Carvajal is keen for authorities to ensure the match goes ahead safely, but he insists he is only concerned with getting three points.

"We're calm. We want it to be played with the maximum guarantees of security. We don't know if it was a mistake to rearrange it," said the full-back.

"I want to go to Camp Nou and win. The rest doesn't bother me.

"It's a very important, beautiful week for us and we're going to try to make it three [wins] from three.

"We have fewer hours of rest than Barcelona and after a demanding game like at Mestalla, it can show in your legs."

Neymar has promised he is "happy" at Paris Saint-Germain and eager to make a big impact in the Champions League knockout rounds.

The Brazil international openly admitted in October that he had wanted to leave the Parc des Princes, just two years after arriving from Barcelona in a record transfer.

PSG supporters booed Neymar earlier in the season, but he has started to make amends by scoring seven times in 10 appearances since returning from injury.

And after playing a starring role in Wednesday's 5-0 win over Galatasaray, Neymar insisted his full focus is on the French champions.

"I'm happy in Paris," he told RMC Sport. "I'm happy when I play football.

"What I like best is being out on the field, no matter where I am. Where there are two posts, a ball and team-mates, I am happy."

Neymar set up two goals and scored another in the thrashing of Galatasaray, while also unselfishly giving Edinson Cavani the chance to score a late penalty.

PSG are in the hat for Monday's last-16 draw and Neymar is hoping to play a bigger part in the knockouts this time around after being plagued by injuries over the past two years.

"It is important for us to still be in the competition come February, and it is very important for me too," said Neymar, who was forced to sit out the last-16 defeat to Manchester United last season.

"I was not there last year and we have to think about the fans and do all we can to be at our best."

Europe's top five leagues have monopolised the Champions League knockout stage for the first time in the competition's history.

With Atalanta's 3-0 defeat of Shakhtar Donetsk, the Serie A side ensured only nations from Italy, England, France, Germany and Spain would complete the last-16 line up prior to the final group fixtures on Wednesday.

Atalanta's win left only one place in the last 16 to be decided, with Atletico Madrid's 2-0 triumph over Lokomotiv Moscow – combined with a 2-0 loss for Bayer Leverkusen at home to Juventus – enough to send Diego Simeone's men through.

It is the first time only teams from the top-tier nations in European football have been included in the draw for the knockout stage, which will take place on Monday.

England – Premier League: Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Tottenham

Chelsea and Liverpool had the biggest scares of the group stage when it came to the English sides, though both ultimately qualified.

Current holders Liverpool put in a clinical second-half display to dispatch Salzburg 2-0 in their final Group E match, with Frank Lampard's side progressing from Group H thanks to a 2-1 win over Lille – last season's semi-finalists Ajax dropping into the Europa League despite amassing 10 points

Tottenham were on the wrong end of a 7-2 hammering by Bayern Munich in October, but three successive victories sent them through prior to their second meeting with the German champions, while Manchester City qualified as Group C winners.

France – Ligue 1: Lyon, Paris Saint-Germain

Paris Saint-Germain look like they mean business this season and, after ensuring their place in the next round with a 2-2 comeback draw away at Real Madrid, capped off their Group A campaign in style with a 5-0 thrashing of lowly Galatasaray.

Neymar starred on Wednesday, with Mauro Icardi, Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani all scoring too – with their star-studded forward line in such form, Thomas Tuchel's side should be some force in the knockouts.

Memphis Depay was the hero for Lyon, meanwhile, as his 82nd-minute equaliser against RB Leipzig sent Rudi Garcia's side from bottom up to second.

Germany – Bundesliga: Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig

Along with PSG, Bayern were the standout performers of the group stage – their haul of 18 points and a goal difference of +19 making them the best group winner in Champions League history.

Leipzig made history when they secured their first participation in the knockout stage thanks to Emil Forsberg's double against Benfica on matchday five in Group G, though Borussia Dortmund had to see off Slavia Prague 2-1 in their final Group F game – and rely on Barcelona to defeat Inter.

Italy – Serie A: Atalanta, Juventus, Napoli

Atalanta seemed on the brink after three straight defeats to start their Group C campaign, yet Gian Piero Gasperini's side battled back – a draw with City and wins over Dinamo Zagreb and Shakhtar continuing their Champions League adventure, becoming the first side to go through after losing their opening three matches.

Juventus' tally of 16 points in Group D saw them equal their own record – set in 1996-97 and matched in 2004-05 – while Napoli hammered Genk 4-0 on Tuesday to book their last-16 berth, though it was not enough to keep Carlo Ancelotti in his job.

There will be no place in the last 16 for Serie A leaders Inter, though, with Antonio Conte's side dropping into the Europa League.

Spain – LaLiga: Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Valencia

LaLiga, like the Premier League, will have four representatives in the knockout stage. Barca were unconvincing at times in Group F, but had enough to seal their spot with a game to spare before ending Inter's hopes.

Atleti needed to overcome Lokomotiv on matchday six, but did so easily enough thanks to Joao Felix and Felipe – though Kieran Trippier missed an early penalty – and their city rivals Real Madrid ultimately easily progressed from Group A despite a chastening defeat to PSG in their opening match.

Valencia were involved in a mighty tussle with Chelsea and Ajax, who beat them 3-0 in their first home match, but eventually topped Group H thanks to a 1-0 win over the Eredivisie champions on Tuesday.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka has been rewarded for his brilliant display up against Raheem Sterling in the Manchester derby, earning inclusion in FIFA Ultimate Team's latest Team of the Week.

Manchester United claimed a fine 2-1 win at the home of the champions on Saturday, with Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial getting the goals.

But arguably just as vital was the performance of Wan-Bissaka at right-back, as the England Under-21 international played an integral role in nullifying Sterling, one of the Premier League's form players.

Wan-Bissaka completed a match-high five tackles – one a last-ditch challenge to deny Sterling what looked set to be a certain goal – and also made seven clearances.

Liverpool star Sadio Mane is back in the TOTW for the second time, while Serie A's chief creator Luis Alberto lines up in midfield having set up another two goals in Lazio's 3-1 win over Juventus, taking his campaign tally to 11, five more than anyone else in the competition.

Unsurprisingly there is also a place in the team for Real Betis' Joaquin after he became the oldest player in LaLiga history to score a hat-trick, while Memphis Depay and Marco Reus lead the line.

Below, we take a look at the latest squad in full.

FUT TEAM OF THE WEEK

GK: Martin Dubravka (Newcastle United) – 83

CB: Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Manchester United) – 82

CB: Martin Hinteregger (Eintracht Frankfurt) – 83

CB: Raphael Varane (Real Madrid) – 86

LM: Sadio Mane (Liverpool) – 90

CDM: Charles Aranguiz (Bayer Leverkusen) – 85

CDM: Luis Alberto (Lazio) – 87

CM: Morgan Sanson (Marseille) – 82

RM: Joaquin (Real Betis) – 83

CF: Memphis Depay (Lyon) – 86

CF: Marco Reus (Borussia Dortmund) – 89

SUBSTITUTES:

GK: Luigi Sepe (Parma) – 81

CB: Guillermo Maripan (Monaco) – 82

LM: Cristian Ansaldi (Torino) – 82

CAM: Matheus Pereira (West Brom) – 81

ST: Jamie Vardy (Leicester City) – 84

ST: Cristhian Stuani (Girona) – 82

RF: Lukas Podolski (Vissel Kobe) – 81

RESERVES:

CM: Cristian Battocchio (Brest) – 78

CM: Carlos Sierra (America de Cali) – 73

ST: Vinicius (Benfica) – 79

ST: Adam Le Fondre (Sydney FC) – 78

ST: Josh Maja (Bordeaux) – 75

Kylian Mbappe has been told by Thomas Tuchel to respect decisions made by the Paris Saint-Germain coach.

Mbappe appeared to ignore Tuchel when he was substituted towards the end of Saturday's Ligue 1 win away to Montpellier, a 3-1 comeback victory in which the World Cup winner scored.

Reports in Spain have claimed Mbappe is not interested in signing a new PSG contract amid speculation Real Madrid will launch a fresh attempt to prise the striker away from Paris.

Former France striker Christophe Dugarry has said on RMC Sport that Tuchel is "finished" at PSG, described the club as a "non-entity" and claimed the coach must "justify" his decision to take off Mbappe two games in a row.

Tuchel faces a tricky balancing act to keep the 20-year-old happy in the French capital but the coach will not tolerate displays of frustration from Mbappe.

"Kylian is not difficult to manage but he has a unique mentality," Tuchel told reporters at a news conference on Tuesday ahead of a Champions League game against Galatasaray.

"It is normal that he always wants to win. He must accept being subbed off and show respect to other players like [Eric Maxim] Choupo-Moting."

PSG are already through as group winners after beating Madrid at home and coming from behind to draw away to Los Blancos on matchday five.

Tuchel hinted he is considering squad rotation against Galatasaray as the Ligue 1 champions have a five-point lead at the top of the table.

"I am convinced that we are ready for tomorrow," Tuchel added. 

"All players want to play and it is necessary that they all have time to play with all of the games that are coming.

"We have to show that we can play as a team; it's what you need to do to accomplish great things."

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