Paris Saint-Germain’s players getting involved in Neymar’s glitzy birthday bash was good for team morale, according to head coach Unai Emery.
The PSG squad toasted the Brazilian superstar’s 26th birthday at the Pavillon Cambon in the heart of the French capital on Sunday.
Emery’s mind was firmly back on playing matters the following day when he faced the media ahead of Tuesday’s Coupe de France trip to Ligue 2 outfit Sochaux.
“I was one of the first to leave around midnight. Neymar cut the cake and I left,” the former Sevilla boss explained.
“It’s good for the collective spirit. Today, they are all ready with the idea and the mentality to prepare the match tomorrow.
“When you play three games a week, players do not have much time to enjoy moments outside of football.
“I trust my players, they are great professionals. This squad thinks 70 per cent of football and 30 per cent of spare time.”
Images of Neymar’s celebrations soon swept across social media and Emery regrets the passing of a simpler time.
“Fifteen or 20 years ago, there were no social networks and when a player was marking a birthday, it was more private,” he said.
“It was important that the whole team be together. The president [Nasser Al-Khelaifi], [sporting director] Antero Henrique, the squad and all the staff were there with Neymar, who was living an important moment.
“It was a good time. But today the most important thing is training and the game tomorrow.”
It’s been magic so far with @NeymarJr
— PSG English (@PSG_English) February 5, 2018
Presnel Kimpembe and Adrien Rabiot are nursing knocks and will be assessed ahead of the last-16 tie.
Thiago Motta is back training with Emery’s squad following a calf injury, although Lassana Diarra provides a more likely option at the base of midfield having made his PSG debut as a second-half substitute during Saturday’s 3-0 Ligue 1 win at Lille.
“We’ll see how Thiago Motta feels, even if it’s a bit early for him to start,” Emery said.
“Hopefully, Diarra has a good chance to start the game – we will see the training.
“We recruited Diarra to help us. Physically, he is not yet 100 per cent but he has to look for rhythm by playing matches.
“On Saturday, he played a good 30 minutes and he is an option.”
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