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."

Neymar has revealed Paris Saint-Germain's staff predicted he would score a free-kick against Montpellier on Saturday, with the Brazil international's set-piece goal helping to spark a come-from-behind win.

PSG were trailing to Leandro Paredes' own goal when Neymar won a set-piece 25 yards out in the final 20 minutes having been fouled by Pedro Mendes, who was sent off for picking up a second booking.

Brazil international Neymar stepped up and dispatched a brilliant strike into the top-right corner of the net to equalise, with Kylian Mbappe and Mauro Icardi then on target in a 3-1 victory.

Neymar later revealed PSG's staff felt he would score a free-kick in the game, which helped imbue him with the confidence as he stood over the ball.

"It was a very tough match but our second half was better," he told PSG TV.

"It's an important victory for the team. Before the match I talked with the staff and we all felt that I will score a goal on a free-kick.

"I had confidence, so I try. It's a great goal to help the team to win."

Lets bora my bro @KMbappe pic.twitter.com/bWNDWfDzW7

— Neymar Jr (@neymarjr) December 7, 2019

Neymar's compatriot and PSG captain Thiago Silva was able to celebrate his 300th appearance for the club with a victory.

"It's historical for me," the 35-year-old said.

"I never thought about playing such a long time with Paris Saint-Germain.

"I'm very happy and honoured but we have to continue, we have many matches to come.

"I hope I could play a lot more matches with Paris."

Brazil captain Thiago Silva is not concerned about coming up against Lionel Messi in Friday's clash with bitter rivals Argentina, rather seeing it as a source of pride to take on the Barcelona superstar.

Messi is back in the Argentina squad for the first time since the Copa America, where Brazil beat Argentina 2-0 in July's semi-final.

After that controversial encounter, Messi accused CONMEBOL of corruption, earning a four-match ban and a $50,000 fine.

Messi is expected to make his return during the friendly clash in Saudi Arabia, and Silva prefers not to look at the situation with fear, instead relishing facing one of the best.

"We are not concerned but proud to have a chance to face him," Silva told reporters on Monday.

"They [Argentina] have their star, we won't have ours [Neymar, who is injured], but Brazil is Brazil, and we showed it during our Copa America win.

"They are living a different moment, as are we when you consider the last few matches. Brazil versus Argentina is always a great game, with great football and scoring chances.

"There's a 50:50 winning chance for each side - let's hope we are more inspired then than they are."

Brazil winger Willian added: "He [Messi] is a great player, unmatched, the best in the world. We've faced Argentina when he played before, and this will be just like those times.

"There must be more attention on him, we must restrict his spaces. We'll not man-mark him, but whoever is around him must close down the spaces, not leave him room to think."

Real Madrid youngster Rodrygo Goes is in line to earn his first senior cap at the tender age of 18 after breaking into the first team at the Santiago Bernabeu.

The wide attacker has already scored five goals in just six matches for Madrid, and Silva has been impressed, even suggesting he hopes Zinedine Zidane leaves the teenager out when Paris Saint-Germain take on the LaLiga giants in the Champions League later this month.

"The fact he's with the Selecao is a unique opportunity, he surely has dreamt about this moment," the PSG defender said of Rodrygo. "I hope he can enjoy it the best way possible.

"I have over 100 caps and every time I'm here, I feel the chills. I hope he has the wisdom to make the most of it.

"It's surprising really to most people, an 18-year-old with loads of personality. You see for the way he scores goals how calm and reserved this kid is, he's not doing it to show off.

"Let's hope Zidane keeps him on the bench! He's a player who'll demand more attention from your side. His quality speaks for itself."

Teenage Real Madrid forward Rodrygo Goes has been included in Brazil's squad for the first time ahead of next month's friendlies with Argentina and South Korea.

The 18-year-old made his first competitive start for Madrid in Tuesday's 1-0 Champions League win against Galatasaray, having also made a couple of substitute appearances in LaLiga this season.

Rodrygo is joined in Tite's 23-man squad by fellow newcomer Douglas Luiz, who has performed well in the Premier League since joining Aston Villa from Manchester City in July.

There is no place for fellow Madrid players Vinicius Junior and Marcelo, while injured Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar also misses out, but Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson returns to the squad after recovering from a calf injury.

Brazil take on South American rivals Argentina in Saudi Arabia in three weeks and then travel to Abu Dhabi for a friendly with South Korea.

The Copa America holders enter the match without a win in their past four outings - all friendlies - and Tite is looking for an improvement as preparations continue for next year's World Cup qualifiers.

"I was not satisfied with our performances and results," he said at a news conference on Friday.

"But we have played in three competitive competitions. In the first, we formatted the team. The second, we reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup. In the Copa America, we won the title.

"Now we are at a new stage of the preparations, preparing for the qualifiers."

Brazil squad in full:

Alisson (Liverpool), Daniel Fuzato (Roma), Ederson (Manchester City); Alex Sandro (Juventus), Danilo (Juventus), Eder Militao (Real Madrid), Emerson (Real Betis), Felipe (Atletico Madrid), Marquinhos (Paris Saint-Germain), Renan Lodi (Atletico Madrid), Thiago Silva (Paris Saint-Germain); Arthur (Barcelona), Casemiro (Real Madrid), Douglas Luiz (Aston Villa), Fabinho (Liverpool), Lucas Paqueta (AC Milan), Philippe Coutinho (Bayern Munich); David Neres (Ajax), Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City), Richarlison (Everton), Roberto Firmino (Liverpool), Rodrygo (Real Madrid), Willian (Chelsea).

Pep Guardiola admitted "the broadcasters are the bosses" in response to Manchester City's rearranged festive fixture list - but again called for players to receive greater protection amid punishing schedules.

City were initially set to travel to Wolves on Boxing Day but that game has been pushed back by 24 hours for live coverage, with the Sheffield United home game moved to December 29.

Still, they have less than 48 hours of rest between those two fixtures - with the reigning Premier League champions then starting 2020 by hosting Everton on January 1.

While a fan of playing during the Christmas period, a custom that he has become used to since moving to England, Guardiola fears the desire to squeeze in so many matches is a major concern.

He used the example of Neymar - who suffered a hamstring injury while playing for Brazil in a friendly against Nigeria last week, ruling him out for up to four weeks - as an example of the risks of playing too often.

Asked for his thoughts about City's fixture changes announced this week, Guardiola told the media: "It is what it is. Since I came here, every season it happened the same.

"The broadcasters are the bosses in this situation. I love to play Boxing Day and winter time when everybody stops, when families and kids go the stadiums and enjoy the games. I like it.

"The problem is the same. So now Neymar is injured again, but they travel for friendly games in Nigeria or Abu Dhabi, or wherever far away, then come back.

"We don't protect the players – the system doesn't protect them. It's too much. Honestly, it's too much."

Guardiola was speaking ahead of Saturday's trip to Crystal Palace - a game that could see both Kevin De Bruyne and John Stones return from injury.

While stopping short of confirming the duo will be available to feature at Selhurst Park, the City boss was upbeat over their outlook.

"Some of them are better. Kevin is back and John trained in the last two days and is good," he said. "[Benjamin] Mendy as well, maybe later, but as well."

Sergio Aguero was involved in a minor car crash in midweek, but Guardiola had positive news on the striker's status: "He is fine. The car is not fine."

Neymar is expected to be out for four weeks after the Paris Saint-Germain star suffered a hamstring injury on international duty.

The Brazil forward was withdrawn in the 12th minute of the Selecao's 1-1 friendly draw with Nigeria on Sunday.

PSG announced Neymar had an MRI scan on Monday that confirmed the injury, which will be re-evaluated in eight days.

Neymar has played just five games for PSG this season owing to an ankle injury picked up in June.

The ex-Barcelona forward did not make his first appearance until September, having attempted to force a move away from the club he joined for a world-record €222million fee in 2017.

He was booed by the home fans on his return to the side in a 1-0 victory over Strasbourg, in which he scored a spectacular overhead kick winner.

The 27-year-old has four goals in his five games for Thomas Tuchel's men, who have a two-point lead in Ligue 1 and have two wins from two in the Champions League.

Speaking after the stalemate with the Super Eagles, Brazil coach Tite said Neymar was not a pre-match injury risk.

"It would be irresponsible and incompetent of me [to play him if he was a doubt]," Tite explained.

"I would have to receive the complaints of the coach and the president of PSG if that happened."

Neymar posted an image on his Instagram story of him back in Paris and receiving treatment for the injury.

The length of Neymar's absence means he is likely to miss two Champions League games with Club Brugge and Ligue 1 matches with Nice, Marseille, Dijon and Brest.

In the same announcement, PSG said Kylian Mbappe is “positively following his recovery programme” after missing the game against Angers last time out.

Edinson Cavani, who has been out since August with a hip issue, continues training with the squad.

Julian Draxler (foot) and Colin Dagba (thigh) have returned to training.

Neymar is expected to be out for four weeks after the Paris Saint-Germain star suffered a hamstring injury on international duty.

Either through injuries or dips in form, Luis Suarez has started to show signs of regression at Barcelona and they are planning for a future without him.

The Uruguayan striker has been a remarkable player for Barca, but at 32 he is approaching the twilight of his career and the Blaugrana have been considering who they might want to replace him with when the time comes.

Meanwhile, one player recently heavily linked with Barca could be signing a new contract with his current employers.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA DRAW UP STRIKERS SHORTLIST

Barca have significantly strengthened several areas of their team in recent transfer windows, with Antoine Griezmann, Junior Firpo, Frenkie de Jong and Neto bolstering their options.

They are now beginning to turn their attentions to the central striker role, according to Mundo Deportivo.

The publication reports Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe is the ideal target, though Barca are said to be hopeful of getting him on a cut-price deal in 2021 after he has entered the final year of his contract, assuming he does not sign an extension in the meantime.

England and Tottenham striker Harry Kane is also said to be high up their list, despite their being acknowledgement that his wages would be more of an issue than the transfer fee.

The other two reportedly being considered are Marcus Rashford of Manchester United and Inter's Lautaro Martinez.

 

ROUND-UP

Barca missed out on securing the return of Neymar in the most recent transfer window and, according to Gazzetta dello Sport, PSG are now planning to offer the Brazilian a new bumper contract.

- The LaLiga champions are also looking at midfield reinforcements with potential. Napoli's Fabian RuizEduardo Camavinga of Rennes and Bayer Leverkusen star Kai Havertz are all being considered, though Mundo Deportivo say Real Madrid are also tracking the trio with intent.

Christian Eriksen's future has been a hot topic for the last few months, with the Tottenham midfielder's contract ending next year. Sport1 in Germany claim Bayern Munich have already been in touch with him.

Liverpool are hoping to sign Brighton and Hove Albion-owned centre-back Ben White, 21, according to the Sun. The defender is impressing on loan at Leeds United and the Reds see him as a replacement for Dejan Lovren, who is said to be eager for a move to get first-team football.

- Despite languishing 12th in the Premier League after a wretched start to the season, the Daily Mail say Manchester United will not be splashing the cash in the January transfer window.

- But the Daily Express report United have reached a "verbal agreement" with Mario Mandzukic of Juventus, who are said to be demanding £10million for the Croatian forward.

Tite admitted he is struggling to get the most out of his players after Brazil's winless streak stretched to a third match with Thursday's 1-1 draw against Senegal.

Famara Diedhiou scored a penalty late in the first half of the friendly international to cancel out Roberto Firmino's ninth-minute opener at the Singapore National Stadium.

Brazil drew 2-2 with Colombia and lost 1-0 to Peru in last month's friendlies and are on their longest wait for a victory since 2013.

The Copa America champions nearly fell to back-to-back losses as Sadio Mane struck the post for Senegal, leaving coach Tite to accept the criticism aimed his way.

"We were below what we can do. The squad played less than what it can play," Tite said at his post-match news conference.

"It was less competitive than what it can be. The squad can give more than this. This wasn't a good game.

"We need to get results. When we don't, criticism emerges and I have to be mature enough to absorb it."

Tite used a 4-4-2 formation in Singapore, with Neymar starting alongside Firmino in attack.

Neymar earned his 100th cap for Brazil and almost marked the landmark appearance with a goal, only for Alfred Gomis to keep out his effort in first-half stoppage time.

Asked about the Paris Saint-Germain forward's performance, Tite said: "He is getting back to his normal patterns.

"We are also making adjustments for him in the 4-4-2 system, as we're doing within the whole team."

Brazil return to action on Sunday with a friendly against Nigeria at the same ground.

Neymar played down his fractured relationship with Paris Saint-Germain's fans, insisting "it is like with women, sometimes you argue and spend some time without talking".

PSG superstar Neymar has enjoyed a stunning return to the team since his failed return to Barcelona, scoring three goals in four matches.

Neymar's desire to re-join Barca sparked a rift with PSG's fans, who insulted and displayed banners during the Brazilian's comeback against Strasbourg on September 14.

But Neymar has not been affected, scoring the winner in Saturday's 1-0 Ligue 1 victory at Bordeaux and he dismissed the rocky relationship with PSG's supporters.

"It is like with women. Sometimes you argue and spend some time without talking," Neymar told reporters post-match.

"However, with love and affection, you go back to normal. I am here to help PSG and I will give my life on the pitch."

Neymar added to beIN SPORTS: "I'm very happy! I love helping the team, whether it be goals or assists! I'm here for that, and I have every intention of doing that.

"I'm happy when I make the breakthrough in such tight and difficult games. Kylian Mbappe? He returned with his smile, his good mood...and his football!"

Neymar and Kylian Mbappe combined for the 70th-minute winner as PSG bounced back from their shock 2-0 defeat at home to Reims on Wednesday.

"We won this evening by getting back our good feelings in our understanding with each other, linking up, and with quick attacks! It augurs well," Mbappe said.

"My absence? It was long, difficult too. When the team loses, you want to come back as soon as possible, but you can't be hasty. It wasn't easy, but it's over!"

On the relationship between Neymar and Mbappe, PSG head coach Thomas Tuchel said: "They have qualities. They like to be together, their personalities go well together. 

"We can feel it, observe it on the field but it should not be too obvious because you have to keep a balance with other players, they must seek others. We always have to make the best decision for the team, to win, to create opportunities. We played like that today."

Titleholders PSG are two points clear atop the Ligue 1 table ahead of Tuesday's Champions League trip to Turkish giants Galatasaray.

"We played well at the end of the game but forgot to score! We created a lot of chances, but the match was close to the end," Tuchel continued. "It's the only negative point, because I'm really very happy with our performance. The team's display was really excellent, with and without the ball. It was a great performance. I'm very happy."

Kylian Mbappe marked his return from injury by teeing up Neymar for the only goal of the game as Paris Saint-Germain got back to winning ways in Ligue 1 with a 1-0 triumph at Bordeaux.

Mbappe had not featured since August 25 because of a muscle problem but came off the bench in the second half to make a telling impact for the defending champions.

The France forward was introduced on the hour mark and 10 minutes later he laid on a close-range winner for Neymar.

Victory for Thomas Tuchel's men sees them go two points clear at the top of the table, though surprise package Angers can go back level with them at the summit by beating Amiens.

Pablo Sarabia saw a goal ruled out for offside in the ninth minute, and a frustrating first half for the visitors - beaten at home by Reims in midweek - featured a booking for coach Tuchel after he expressed his disdain at a free-kick given to Bordeaux.

His side dominated throughout and Thomas Meunier dragged an effort wide before Angel Di Maria and Neymar were each denied by Benoit Costil in quick succession.

Neymar then headed wide after more good work down the right from Meunier, with PSG's profligacy forcing Tuchel's hand as Mbappe was summoned to join the action.

He wasted an early opportunity by shooting straight at Costil before Neymar sent another header off target at the far post with the goal at his mercy.

PSG's persistence was finally rewarded, however, when Bordeaux lost the ball in their own half and Mbappe broke free down the right, firing a low cross in for Neymar to tuck into the bottom-left corner.

Mbappe's cameo was arguably worthy of a goal but Costil kept his team in it with another fine save after a break from the World Cup winner, who blasted over the bar shortly after on a day when PSG should have won by a much more convincing margin.

There was controversy late on, though, as Bordeaux had an appeal for a penalty rejected by VAR despite Idrissa Gueye appearing to make contact with Loris Benito, but a point for the hosts would have been scarcely deserved.

Didier Drogba believes Paris Saint-Germain's "exceptional" strikers Neymar and Kylian Mbappe will both win the Ballon d'Or during their careers.

The pair have been instrumental in PSG's dominance of French football since linking up at the start of the 2017-18 season, scoring 115 goals between them across all competitions.

Luka Modric broke Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo's decade-long stranglehold on the Ballon d'Or last year and former Chelsea and Marseille striker Drogba has no doubt PSG's potent attackers will join that illustrious group.

He told Le Parisien: "Neymar and Mbappe will one day win the Ballon d'Or. They are part of this small group of exceptional players. There are very few in the world."

While Champions League winner Drogba thinks their individual talents will be recognised on the highest stage, he was keen to point out how impressively they work together in tandem.

"Neymar likes to create spaces and Kylian likes to move into those spaces. Neymar creates and Kylian profits. It works very well," Drogba said.

"Just watch them when they are together on the pitch. They are constantly looking for each other. It's almost the first thing they do when they touch the ball. It is obvious that when they are not on the pitch, PSG are not as strong."

Neymar has endured a mixed start to the campaign after an off-season transfer saga during which he reportedly pushed for a return to Barcelona.

He was booed by PSG's own supporters during a home clash with Strasbourg on September 14 before scoring a stunning stoppage-time winner. He followed that up last weekend with another decisive late goal against Lyon.

Drogba believes the Brazilian has been harshly treated and does not think it will not take him long to be accepted by fans again.

"At the moment, it seems like it's fashionable to criticise him for everything that happened [during the off-season]. But once he's on the pitch, who can seriously say they do not take pleasure in watching him play?" Drogba said. 

"The more matches he plays, the more things will change and he will become what he was before.

"I'm sorry, but what happened this summer is what happens in all the big clubs with all the big players. There are some who want to leave and some their clubs want to keep. It's the life of modern football."

Thomas Tuchel indicated he will rotate his depleted Paris Saint-Germain squad against Reims in Ligue 1 on Wednesday as he balances an ongoing injury crisis.

Forwards Mauro Icardi, Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani are all unavailable, as well as defender Thilo Kehrer and midfielder Julian Draxler, while Marco Verratti is suspended.

Neymar and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting are therefore the only senior attackers available to PSG, who are three points clear at the top of the table after six matches.

After sitting out the opening weeks of the season due to injury and uncertainty over his future, Neymar has hit late winners in consecutive league defeats of Strasbourg and Lyon.

Tuchel, though, suggested the Brazil forward could sit out the visit of Reims to ensure he is kept fresh for PSG's busy upcoming schedule.

"It's not possible to pick the same players," he told a news conference. "I'm responsible for the team, we only have two days of rest.

"Then we play in Bordeaux, then in Istanbul [against Galatasaray in the Champions League] two days later, we cannot overuse the players."

Neymar reported late to training on Tuesday but Tuchel confirmed this was authorised as the forward had a "personal thing".

The 27-year-old has yet to be forgiven by some PSG fans after making it clear he wanted to leave the club during the transfer window.

Thomas Meunier, though, feels supporters need to move on from that saga and give Neymar their backing.

"Whistling is not the answer, I'm happy with what he brings in," he told a news conference.

"Professionally he did the right thing, he did not make a story, he's convinced himself that he can still play a role in the club."

Neymar was once again the hero for Paris Saint-Germain as his late goal secured a 1-0 win over Lyon on Sunday.

Having scored a stunning stoppage-time winner against Strasbourg last weekend, the Brazil international sealed all three points against Sylvinho's side with another brilliant finish, this time in the 87th minute.

The 27-year-old – who routinely had objects thrown at home by home fans when taking corners in the second half – collected Angel Di Maria's pass before turning away from Kenny Tete and firing a low drive into Anthony Lopes' bottom-left corner.

The win moves the reigning champions three points above Angers and Nice at the top of the Ligue 1 table, while Lyon languish in ninth.

Kylian Mbappe is "progressing well" as he continues to recover from a hamstring injury, Paris Saint-Germain have confirmed.

Mbappe was substituted after pulling his hamstring in a 4-0 Ligue 1 defeat of Toulouse last month.

The France forward has been working hard on his recovery over the international break but is not yet ready to return to training.

Edinson Cavani, though, is closer to making his comeback after he was injured in the same game as Mbappe.

In an update posted to PSG's official website on Thursday, the club said the Uruguay striker will make a "progressive return to training this week".

Thilo Kehrer and Julian Draxler are undergoing treatment with both players expected to miss Saturday's home game against Strasbourg as a result.

Mbappe and Cavani are unlikely to be fit to take on Real Madrid, however, with PSG opening their Champions League campaign at home to the Spanish giants on Wednesday.

Neymar is also ruled out of that game due to suspension, so PSG coach Thomas Tuchel could be without all three members of his usual front line for the Group A clash.

Former Stoke City forward Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, who has scored three goals in two Ligue 1 games, is therefore in line to feature.

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