Neymar in line for debut as PSG go to Guingamp
PARIS: Neymar is poised to make his much-anticipated debut for Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) on Sunday when they travel to Guingamp in their second game of the Ligue 1 season.
The French Football Federation finally received the necessary documents to register the Brazilian on Friday after Barcelona confirmed the 222 million-euro ($261 million) cheque used to pay his buyout clause had cleared.
“Neymar’s contract will be ratified during the afternoon. He will be able to play on Sunday,” said the LFP on Friday.
The world’s most expensive player should, therefore, run out into the mundane surroundings of the Stade du Roduourou — capacity just over 15,000 — in the tiny Brittany town of barely 7,000 people.
“Quite honestly it’s better if he’s there, much better,” said Guingamp coach Antoine Kombouare, a former PSG player and Paris coach from 2009 to 2011.
“For us it is an extra source of motivation. We know that by beating PSG with Neymar it would be even more momentous.
“If Neymar is there it is all the better for the spectacle, for the supporters and for those who want to see him play, but we will be ready with or without him.”
Neymar was unveiled to the PSG fans at the Parc des Princes last weekend but was forced to watch from the stands as his new team-mates cruised to a low-key 2-0 win over newly-promoted Amiens in their Ligue 1 opener.
The 25-year-old Brazilian scored 105 goals in his four seasons at Barcelona, and his new team will be expecting him to score far more over the next few years.
Although the main goal for the capital club is to finally challenge for the Champions League crown, their first task this term will be to retake the Ligue 1 title from Monaco.
Better with Neymar
Coach Unai Emery has no doubt that his new arrival will help the team achieve those lofty goals.
“He’s a player who will help the club get to a higher level,” said the Spaniard.
“Without Neymar PSG is a great club, but with Neymar it’s a little better.
“The way we will adapt being close to a player like him… The other players here are also some great players, so together we can get better and grow.”
Once again, PSG’s main rivals for domestic honours appear to be Monaco, but they are in serious danger of losing rising star Kylian Mbappe to the capital outfit.
The 18-year-old, who is also wanted by Real Madrid, started in their opening 3-2 victory over Toulouse last weekend, as captain Radamel Falcao found the net.
Leonardo Jardim’s principality outfit will be expecting to make it two wins from two when they pay a visit to Dijon on Sunday.
Nice, who have the first leg of their Champions League play-off against Napoli on Wednesday, kick off the second weekend at home to promoted Troyes on Friday without their two star players, the injured Mario Balotelli and new signing Wesley Sneijder.
Lyon’s youthful side started with a 4-0 thumping of Strasbourg last week and travel out to Brittany to take on Rennes on Friday.
Marseille visit Claudio Ranieri’s Nantes on Saturday looking to build on their 3-0 win over Dijon last time out but with captain Dimitri Payet missing due to injury.
Ligue 1 fixtures (all times GMT)
Nice v Troyes (1700), Rennes v Lyon (1845)