Paris Saint-Germain coach Unai Emery has described Neymar as “special” after a week of criticism of the Brazil international’s conduct.
Neymar was condemned after the 3-2 Coupe de la Ligue win at Rennes for showboating, as well as offering a hand to injured opponent Hamari Traore before then pulling it away. Neymar described the act as a “joke” and Emery claimed it was all part of the player’s unique make-up.
Speaking ahead of Saturday’s trip to Lille, he said: “I know Neymar from Spain. He is special.
“His way of playing is a show. He’s smart because he knows how to help the team win. His way [of playing] is the best for everyone and especially for PSG. I have a good relationship with him as with all other players.”
— PSG Officiel (@PSG_inside) February 2, 2018
Emery dismissed as “normal” criticism of the club from Neymar for selling his fellow Brazilian Lucas Moura.
Lucas joined Tottenham on Wednesday after becoming frustrated at a lack of playing time at the Parc des Princes.
The world’s most expensive player described the situation as “unfair” and said he was “sad” at the loss of a “good guy who should never have left Paris”.
But Emery said: “It’s normal, they are friends, they are Brazilians, they played together with the national team.
“I wish the best to Lucas. He did not have the opportunity to be a main player in the team. Therefore, it was best was that he left Paris. It’s a good choice to go to Tottenham. He will continue to progress and grow.”
It remains to be seen if Neymar is fit for the trip to the Stade Pierre-Mauroy after missing training on Thursday but there was better news on Thiago Silva.
Emery added: “Thiago Motta continues to work with the physio. [Julian] Draxler still has back pain and I hope he can join the squad. He did not train yesterday like Neymar. He has received a knock and I hope he will be okay.
“Thiago Silva returned to training and he can be in the squad if he continues like this.
“We play three games a week and it’s important to see how players handle fatigue.”
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