Marco Verratti wants Neymar to stay at Paris Saint-Germain amid reports the star forward is set for an exit from the Ligue 1 champions.

Neymar missed PSG's 3-0 win over Nimes on Sunday, with his move from the Parc des Princes – reportedly to either Barcelona or Real Madrid – seemingly getting closer.

Still, the Brazil international was targeted by supporters, who called for the 27-year-old to leave the club.

Verratti, who played 90 minutes against Nimes, is eager for Neymar to remain with PSG.

"I didn't listen to that. Supporters can say what they think," the midfielder said, via L'Equipe.

"We are very close to Ney. He is a player who gave a lot to Paris. Last year, he scored in important moments.

"As soon as he played, we only talked about him because he is an incredible player who excites everyone.

"I think for him it's good if things are clear, if he stays or if he leaves. These are things he will manage with the club, but I want him to stay."

Neymar has scored 51 goals in 58 games for PSG since joining the club from Barcelona for a world-record fee of €222million two years ago.

PSG make the trip to Rennes in their second Ligue 1 game of the season on Sunday.

Paris Saint-Germain should not keep Neymar if he wants to leave the club, says team-mate Marco Verratti.

The Brazil superstar has been heavily linked with a move to Barcelona, two years after he joined PSG in a €222million deal, with sporting director Leonardo confirming Neymar wants to leave.

Barca have reportedly offered €100m and two of Ousmane Dembele, Philippe Coutinho, Samuel Umtiti, Nelson Semedo, Ivan Rakitic and Malcom in exchange.

And Verratti – who came close to joining Barca two years ago – thinks it would be detrimental to PSG if they were to deny Neymar a move.

"I think that if a player wants to leave, in the end he will always find a way to go" he told RMC Sport.

"And it's better like that, otherwise the club will keep someone who does not want [to be there], who will be against the club.

"When a player really wants to leave, the club must let him go, depending on the conditions set by the club, of course. But do not hold back a player who wants to leave."

Leonardo has said the price must be right for Neymar to leave but Verratti hopes the 27-year-old remains in the French capital.

"Of course, I would be disappointed to see him go," he added. "He's a great player. 

"I've never heard him say he wanted to leave but personally, of course, I would prefer to see him stay."

Verratti's agent Donato Di Campli described the midfielder as a "prisoner" at PSG two years ago when he was being strongly linked with Barcelona.

Instead of leaving, Verratti pledged his future to the Ligue 1 champions after receiving reassurances about their ambitions, a decision he does not regret.

"At the time, I needed explanations from PSG," he explained. "I saw things that did not seem to me to be worthy of a club that wants to win major competitions.

"I did not agree with some things, but we talked to each other and I stayed. I'm glad I made that choice."

Neymar has yet to feature for PSG in pre-season and will miss their final warm-up game, against A-League outfit Sydney FC in Suzhou on Tuesday.

Marco Verratti is a great player for Italy even though he looks "small and tiny", says coach Roberto Mancini.

The Paris Saint-Germain midfielder came up with a late winner to down Bosnia-Herzegovina 2-1 in Euro 2020 qualifying on Tuesday.

Lorenzo Insigne volleyed a stunning equaliser to cancel out Edin Dzeko's opener with the Napoli forward then setting up Verratti to snatch the points.

Italy have won all four of their matches in Group J with Mancini singling out Verratti for praise despite the diminutive midfielder's lack of height.

"Verratti is a great player, even if he looks small and tiny," Mancini told a news conference of the 26-year-old, who scored his third international goal.

"I'm happy but we'll lose one day because you can't always win. Verratti and Jorginho are very similar and they both have quality and class.

"But they are also helped by defenders as [Leonardo] Bonucci and [Giorgio] Chiellini always make good pressure on the opponents. All my players are very good.

"This is a very good Italy. We were in a really bad moment but now we are playing really nice football with great personality. We need to keep going like this to be considered one of the favourites in Euro 2020."

Dzeko's opener was the first goal Italy have conceded since October with Mancini impressed by the Azzurri's battling spirit as they came from behind.

"We are improving. It was not easy to come back against Bosnia because they have great players," he said.

"During the first half we could make more pressure on Bosnia but we did not. We were struggling a bit, but I think it's normal because we played just three days ago [a 3-0 away win over Greece].

"Bosnia played a wonderful game, but we knew it even before the game. They were unlucky against Finland [losing 2-0 on Saturday].

"We knew that this could be the most difficult game of the group. [Miralem] Pjanic and Dzeko played very well, we knew it.

"But we came back at the end and I'm happy for that because we showed great personality. We always try to score and that's positive."

Italy, who failed to qualify for the last World Cup, return to action with an away double-header against Armenia and Finland in September.

Marco Verratti says he has no intention of leaving Paris Saint-Germain at the end of this season.

The 26-year-old joined from Pescara in 2012 and has enjoyed another fine campaign at the heart of the Ligue 1 champions' midfield.

His form has seen him linked with a big-money move to the Premier League or LaLiga but the Italy international insists he is happy in France and expects to be lining up for Thomas Tuchel's side next term.

"I'll be in Paris, yes, if nothing happens," he told Telefoot.

"If the club does not want to release me, I'll be in Paris next year."

While PSG can wrap up the Ligue 1 title against Lille on Sunday, their season is considered to be a disappointment by some after a dramatic Champions League exit at the hands of Manchester United in the last 16.

Despite winning the first leg 2-0 at Old Trafford, Tuchel's men slumped to a dramatic 3-1 defeat in the return fixture in Paris.

PSG were without the injured Neymar for both legs and Verratti says he and his team-mates were disappointed not to be able to advance in the competition for the Brazilian's benefit.

"He hoped we would go into the quarter-finals to help us then," he said. "We could not give him this gift. I hope he will come back soon to help us.  

"The fans are disappointed by the way we went out. We play this game 10 times, we win it nine times.

"We must not change much. We have a great coach and some of the best players in the world with Neymar and Kylian [Mbappe]."

Thomas Tuchel wants to reinforce Paris Saint-Germain with up to four new signings as the German closes in on his first league title.

PSG will be crowned Ligue 1 champions for the sixth time in seven seasons on Sunday if they beat Strasbourg and Lille do not win at Reims.

Tuchel's men are also through to the Coupe de France final but were dumped out of the Champions League in sensational fashion by Manchester United in the last 16.

The club's desire to make an impression in Europe could prompt another off-season influx, with the failure to land Barcelona-bound Frenkie de Jong and Adrien Rabiot's expected departure highlighting midfield as a likely area for improvement.

"It's hard to say [how many players will arrive] because I don't know what's going to happen with the players here, if everyone wants to stay or some want to leave," Tuchel said.

"Today I will say that three of four more players would be good."

Marco Verratti, who joined from Pescara in 2012, has had a first-hand view of PSG's domestic dominance under Nasser Al-Khelaifi chairmanship and warned against making wholesale changes in the pursuit of continental success.

The 26-year-old Italy international thinks the heart-wrenching loss to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's United at home would have been different had the injured Neymar been available.

“I would not change much within the team to go far in the Champions League. We are close," Verratti said.

"This year was another bizarre match and we made mistakes, but we do not need to change too much.

"We were missing players, notably Neymar. That's like missing half of the team, as would be the case for Barcelona with Lionel Messi, or Juventus with Cristiano Ronaldo."

Gianluigi Buffon, who has not featured since the Champions League exit, will return to the starting XI against Strasbourg at Parc des Princes, but Edinson Cavani, Angel Di Maria, Marquinhos and Neymar all remain sidelined.

"On Sunday I hope to celebrate the title with our supporters," Verratti said.

"It's always a wonderful time to win the league. It's 38 matches, it's very long and difficult."

Thomas Tuchel joked Marco Verratti's eating habits must have changed as he tried to explain the midfielder's recent scoring spree after his depleted Paris Saint-Germain side reached the Coupe de France final with a 3-0 win over Nantes.

A PSG side shorn of Neymar, Edinson Cavani, Angel Di Maria and Thomas Meunier reached their fifth successive Coupe de France final - where they will meet Rennes - courtesy of Verratti's first-half strike, Kylian Mbappe's penalty and Dani Alves' late goal.

Prior to last week, Verratti had gone 58 games without a goal but he followed up scoring in Italy's 6-0 win over Liechtenstein by firing home from the edge of the box at the Parc des Princes on Wednesday.

"I am not sure what is going on with him," Tuchel told reporters at a news conference of Verratti's sudden purple patch.

"Perhaps he ate something while on international duty!

"It was necessary today because we lack offensive players.

"I am very happy, normally he always looks for the pass or to offer a decisive pass."

PSG, who are 20 points clear at the top of Ligue 1, did not have it all their own way on Wednesday, Mbappe seeing a retaken penalty saved by Nantes goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu before he eventually converted another spot-kick five minutes from time, while Marquinhos was forced off with a first-half injury.

He joins PSG's growing injury list and while Neymar returned to training on Wednesday, Tuchel was quick to stress just how stretched his side are.

"It's horrible," he said.

"We miss a lot of key players and even like that we win every three days and we work hard, it's exceptional.

"But it's impossible to manage the minutes of guys. Players are too used and it is a risk to play them."

It has been reported that Tuchel will be given a contract extension by PSG, even after they threw away a two-goal first-leg lead in the Champions League when knocked out by Manchester United in the last 16.

Asked about a fresh deal, Tuchel replied with a smile: "I cannot confirm anything, you will have to wait!"

Paris Saint-Germain booked a Coupe de France final clash against Rennes as Kylian Mbappe made up for having a penalty saved by converting another spot-kick in a 3-0 win over Nantes.

Marco Verratti scored his first Paris Saint-Germain goal in 17 months with a strike from the edge of the box in the 29th minute to set Thomas Tuchel's side on their way.

Mbappe, who had scored in his previous five games for club and country, initially squandered the chance to double the lead as Ciprian Tatarusanu saved his retaken effort midway through the second half.

Nantes had Kalifa Coulibaly sent off for two yellow cards and Mbappe atoned for his earlier penalty miss when presented with another opportunity from 12 yards five minutes from the end before substitute Dani Alves added a third in stoppage time.

 

 

Jorginho has won the backing of Italy boss Roberto Mancini despite criticism of his debut season in the Premier League with Chelsea.

The deep-lying midfielder was a flagship signing for Maurizio Sarri at the start of his Stamford Bridge reign, having been heavily linked with a move to Manchester City.

However, Jorginho's performances have come under increasing scrutiny as the Blues have faded after a strong start, leaving them in a battle to secure a top-four finish.

A section of fans at Stamford Bridge cheered his substitution during the recent 1-1 draw against Wolves – Jorginho being selected at the base of the midfield instead of N'Golo Kante has become a considerable bone of contention - and Sarri's men lie sixth in the table following Sunday's 2-0 loss at Everton.

Jorginho has now joined up with Italy for their opening Euro 2020 qualifiers against Finland and Liechtenstein and Mancini has no doubt that he has a high-quality performer at his disposal.

"Jorginho is playing very well," he told a news conference. " He hardly misses any games.

"Chelsea aren't doing as well as usual but he has great quality, like [international team-mate Marco] Verratti, who is key for PSG in midfield."

Chelsea are through to the quarter-finals of the Europa League alongside Arsenal, while four Premier League representatives make up half of the last eight in the Champions League.

Juventus are flying the flag for Italy in the latter competition, while Jorginho's old club Napoli are among the favourites for Europa glory.

Chelsea are through to the quarter-finals of the Europa League alongside Arsenal, with four Premier League representatives making up half of the last eight in the Champions League.

Juventus are flying the flag for Italy in the latter competition, while Jorginho's old club Napoli are among the favourites for Europa glory.

"Juventus are still strong, they played a great game [against Atletico Madrid] it was not easy to overturn that result there," Mancini added, before acknowledging the boost that club continental success could have as he continues to rebuild a national team that failed to reach the 2018 World Cup.

"Napoli have what it takes to win the Europa League. In the end there are two winners and we hope they are the Italians."

Thomas Tuchel praised the performances of Marco Verratti and Leandro Paredes after the Paris Saint-Germain pair started together in midfield for the first time in the 3-0 win over Nimes.

New signing Paredes was making his first home Ligue 1 start on Saturday, while Verratti has been eased back into action following an ankle injury.

Paredes has replaced Verratti on the two occasions where they have both featured in Tuchel's matchday squad, the Argentine coming off the bench to swap places with his team-mate against Bordeaux and Manchester United.

Tuchel named them both in his starting line-up for Saturday's win and he was delighted to see a relationship building between his two stars.

"Both of them played well," he told reporters. "They played together for the first time.

"We can see Leo Paredes is very clever, he likes to make some decisive passes between lines.

"Marco is Marco. He can always find a space which is not possible to be found. He finds the key, always. It's his quality.

"They both were doing great. It's good for Leo as he needs to play more minutes."

Paris Saint-Germain coach Thomas Tuchel thinks it highly unlikely that Edinson Cavani will be fit to face Manchester United on Tuesday.

The striker scored from the penalty spot in Saturday's 1-0 Ligue 1 win over Bordeaux but was unable to appear for the second half after sustaining what is reported to be a thigh problem.

The Uruguay international is undergoing tests on Sunday to determine whether or not he will be ready for the Champions League last-16 trip to Old Trafford.

Tuchel, though, is not optimistic.

"There's no good news for Edi this morning. He had some tests and there will be more to come," he told Telefoot.

"My feeling is that it's going to be very difficult for him to play. We have to wait a little bit more, but the club will communicate on this later today. I think the news will not be very good.

"[There is a] very small hope, but the first tests were not good."

Marco Verratti is also a doubt, the midfielder managing only 59 minutes against Bordeaux after recovering from an ankle injury.

However, Tuchel says the Italy international is eager to play a part.

"Marco Verratti wants to play but he only played 60 minutes once," he said. "We have to think it over with the physio, the doctor and Marco. He can play and he will play."

Thomas Tuchel acknowledged he could be without Marco Verratti and Edinson Cavani for Paris Saint-Germain's Champions League trip to Manchester United on Tuesday.

Cavani scored the only goal of the game from the spot in PSG's win over Bordeaux on Saturday, but he was unable to finish the match and limped off soon after finding the net, reportedly with a thigh strain.

The Uruguay international was one of few PSG stars to start the match, as Tuchel kept the likes of Leandro Paredes and Kylian Mbappe in reserve ahead of the last-16 first leg at Old Trafford.

PSG are already without Neymar for the match and Tuchel accepts Cavani may have to miss out as well, dealing the Ligue 1 champions a major blow ahead of facing a United side who have won 10 out of a possible 11 matches under interim manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

"There are lots of plan Bs now," Tuchel told reporters. "Without Ney [Neymar], maybe without Marco, maybe without Edi [Cavani], now we need a plan D.

"I can't think about so many different plans in advance. We have to analyse Manchester United, we have to stay calm and confident.

"Normally, my opinion is definitely clear: for a game against Manchester United, for a game against Liverpool or even against Red Star Belgrade, you need your key players with confidence, experience, quality, who are used to playing that kind of game, are used to playing big games full of pressure, who are used to managing the pressure.

"But, if two or three key players are not here, it's our duty to find solutions. It's very difficult if we play with our best team, it's a big challenge. If we are missing lots of key players, it's an even bigger challenge, but we will be ready on Tuesday, I think."

Verratti played for an hour on Saturday after three weeks out with an ankle injury, and Tuchel admitted he might have to risk the Italian due to their injury problems.

"Obviously, we are very happy Marco is back with us," Tuchel added. "He brings quality, as we could see today. After he left the pitch, it was more difficult for us to control the game.

"Normally, it's very difficult to play so soon when you have been injured as Marco has. It was his first game since his injury.

"He played 60 minutes, I don't know if it's possible for him to play again at Old Trafford against Manchester United only three days later.

"But, in our situation, it's maybe necessary to try to make him play. We have to decide tomorrow [Sunday] about that. We have to wait for Marco's opinion.

"But, obviously I already know Marco's opinion. If I ask him if he can play [he will want to play] … But we have to wait for the doctor's opinion to see if it's possible or not."

Edinson Cavani gave Paris Saint-Germain an injury scare ahead of their Champions League clash with Manchester United despite scoring in Saturday's 1-0 victory over Bordeaux.

Unlike Angel Di Maria, Julian Draxler and Kylian Mbappe, Cavani started at the Parc des Princes but he only lasted 45 minutes before hobbling off.

His departure came moments after he converted a first-half penalty following Nicolas de Preville's clumsy challenge on the marauding Thomas Meunier.

The loss of Cavani seemed to affect PSG after the restart as they struggled to re-assert their dominance, Gianluigi Buffon needing to make a number of saves to ensure their lead at the top of the Ligue 1 grew to 13 points.

Thomas Tuchel made seven changes from the side beaten at Lyon last weekend but it did not affect their rhythm, and Thiago Silva should have put them ahead early on but his shot was cleared off the line by Pablo.

While Silva was unlucky, Cavani was wasteful when played in by Marco Verratti, the Uruguay international controlling the chipped pass well before hooking his left-foot shot well wide.

Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting was denied at point-blank range by Benoit Costil as PSG began to apply pressure, the forward unable to convert from Christopher Nkunku's run.

With half-time looming PSG finally took the lead, Meunier fouled by De Preville and Cavani making no mistake from the spot.

It was Cavani's final action as the striker limped off with a muscle injury, Mbappe coming off the bench to replace him at the start of the second period.

PSG were lucky to still be ahead just before the hour when Younousse Sankhare created space for Francois Kamano, but the forward ballooned over from 18 yards much to the relief of the home defence.

Buffon then made a superb save to deny Kamano's next effort and PSG withstood some late pressure before their return to winning ways in the league was confirmed.

 

What does it mean? All eyes on Cavani

While the win extends PSG's lead at the top of Ligue 1, they may come to rue starting Cavani if he misses the midweek trip to Old Trafford. Tuchel will hope removing him at the break ensured he will be fit to feature as they look to keep their European dreams alive.

Alves shows his versatility

Dani Alves has established himself as one of the best full-backs in the world during his illustrious career, but he showed another string to his bow on Saturday. Deployed in central midfield, the Brazil international was PSG's heartbeat alongside the returning Verratti – who played 58 minutes.

Tuchel's decision backfired

There was no need for Tuchel to risk Cavani from the start, and his decision to play the forward backfired. Now he will hope it is nothing too serious.

What's next?

PSG travel to Manchester for the first leg of their last-16 tie with United before returning to league action at Saint-Etienne next weekend, when Bordeaux will host Toulouse.

Marco Verratti could hand Thomas Tuchel a major boost by returning for Paris Saint-Germain in their Ligue 1 clash with Bordeaux on Saturday.

The Italy midfielder sustained an ankle injury in the 9-0 hammering of Guingamp on January 19 but, although he was declared unfit for Wednesday's Coupe de France win at Villefranche due to another ailment, came through training on Thursday and seems likely to play at the weekend.

Assuming there are no further complications, that would put Verratti firmly in the frame to face Manchester United in the first leg of the Champions League last 16 tie at Old Trafford on Tuesday.

Tuchel told a news conference: "Marco trained on Thursday and there is no problem. 

"I'm waiting for the afternoon training [on Friday] but he's available to play against Bordeaux. Maybe not 90 minutes, we'll talk with the physio, the doctor and the player but I think he can play. 

"I do not know yet if it's possible, we have to wait."

PSG have been forced to play defenders Marquinhos and Dani Alves in midfield in recent weeks with Verratti injured and Adrien Rabiot out of contention due to a contract dispute.

With Ligue 1 table-toppers PSG 10 points clear of second-placed Lille, and with two games in hand, Tuchel will make several changes for the visit of Bordeaux to the Parc des Princes.

He added: "It is not possible to just let go of the match against Bordeaux but it is my responsibility to protect players who have played a lot in recent weeks.

"Maybe some of the players who have not played too much will play."

The German admitted his focus was on the midweek trip to Manchester.

"Of course, everyone thinks about Manchester but we have to think about Bordeaux," he said. "We talk about it [United] but in a calm way. The squad knows how to do one thing after another.

"I know 10 players who will play against United. Then you have to stay flexible."

Paris Saint-Germain coach Thomas Tuchel revealed midfielder Marco Verratti had suffered another injury setback in a blow to the Ligue 1 champions.

The Italy international, 26, returned to training on Monday after being sidelined with a sprained ankle sustained last month.

That was a boost to PSG, who are set to be without Neymar until April, ahead of their Champions League last-16 tie against Manchester United beginning next week.

But after Verratti missed his side's extra-time win over Villefranche in the Coupe de France on Wednesday, Tuchel revealed the midfielder had suffered a fresh injury.

"Marco Verratti could not finish training yesterday [Tuesday]. He had problems," he said.

"I have to wait until tomorrow [Thursday] to decide if he can play against Bordeaux.

"His new problem is something else, but I do not know too much."

PSG host Bordeaux on Saturday before making the trip to Old Trafford for the first leg of their tie with United three days later.

Marco Verratti could return to action for Paris Saint-Germain in Wednesday's Coupe de France match against Villefranche, head coach Thomas Tuchel has confirmed.

The Italy international resumed training on Monday after missing the last three matches with an ankle injury.

Tuchel is prepared to play the midfielder in the cup trip against their third-tier opponents, provided he comes through their latest practice session unscathed.

"We have to decide today [Tuesday] if it's possible for him to play again," he told a news conference.

PSG will definitely be without Neymar, who is out for 10 weeks with a foot injury, and his absence coincided with their first Ligue 1 defeat of the season against Lyon last Sunday.

Despite missing the Brazil star's creativity, Tuchel has ruled out asking Kylian Mbappe to adapt his game and try to fill in for his team-mate.

"I don't want Kylian to play like Neymar and keep the ball," he said. "Kylian is incredibly dangerous in the final move and I want him to stay that way."

Tuchel expects his senior players to make sure PSG do not show any complacency against Villefranche, who knocked out last season's surprise finalists Les Herbiers in the last round.

"I expect a match with great domination and possession of the ball. They're going to want to play on the counter-attack. We must play with seriousness and vigilance," he said.

"It's a decisive match, we definitely want to win and it's our responsibility to win.

"We have experienced players like Gianluigi Buffon, Dani Alves and Thiago [Silva]. They play every match with the same state of mind."

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