Paris Saint-Germain boss Thomas Tuchel has said that Neymar will start Tuesday’s crunch Champions League fixture against RB Leipzig, despite not being totally fit.
The Brazil international will be given permission to relax defensively, with the former Borussia Dortmund boss calling on his team-mates to pick up the slack.
PSG have suffered two defeats in their three Champions League matches to date and a further loss would serve as a damaging blow to their hopes of progression – as well as Tuchel’s long-term ambitions of keeping his job.
They presently lie third in Group H behind Leipzig and Manchester United.
With that in mind, he is prepared to risk Neymar, who has not played since the 2-0 win over Istanbul Basaksehir because of a muscular injury.
“We need him. It’s absolutely necessary that he plays,” he told the press. “He has the confidence, the quality and the experience. He is a key player for his.
“He’s not in the best physical state, but he will start tomorrow. He can physically and mentally handle this kind of match.
“I hope that it’s not too much for him and that we will help him. We must work for him. He is not alone.”
Both Neymar and Kylian Mbappe are in the midst of a Champions League goal drought, with the former not having netted in the competition since March. Mbappe’s last tally, meanwhile, came against Galatasaray in the group stages almost a year ago.
“If Kylian and Ney don’t score, it has a big impact on us because they are decisive players,” the coach conceded. “We need goals from them and great performances.”
Mbappe has also been struggling with a minor injury of late but managed to play three-quarters of the weekend’s match with Monaco. He scored twice against his former club but PSG folded in the closing stages of the encounter as they suffered a 3-2 loss.
Another reverse may prove too much for the coach to survive as the pressure mounts on him.