Neymar took part in Paris Saint-Germain training on Thursday and has a chance of featuring in next week's Champions League last-16 first leg with Real Madrid.

Brazil international Neymar has not played for PSG since November 28 after spraining the ligaments in his left ankle during the 3-1 win over Saint-Etienne.

The 30-year-old, who was initially due to miss between six and eight weeks, has sat out the Parisians' past 12 matches.

However, he has stepped up his recovery programme by playing a small part in group training on the eve of PSG's Ligue 1 meeting with Rennes. 

Head coach Mauricio Pochettino has ruled Neymar out of Friday's game, but a decision on whether he can play any part against Madrid in five days' time will be made next week.

"He's a great player who wants to play in the big games," Pochettino said at a pre-match news conference. "But he's an experienced player who has had injuries before. 

"He has the maturity to be able to handle these types of situations and use these situations to bring out the best in himself.

"We will wait and decide in the next few days if he will be there for Tuesday."

Neymar struggled for top form prior to his spell on the sidelines, managing three goals and three assists in 14 appearances in all competitions this season.

Real Madrid great Sergio Ramos, meanwhile, also still has a chance of playing against his former side in next week's first leg at Parc des Princes.

Ramos sustained another calf injury two week ago and has missed PSG's previous two games, but he started running again on Thursday and will be evaluated in the next 48 hours.

The Spain international has played just five times for Pochettino's side in all competitions since arriving in July, totalling 284 minutes of action on the field.

Indeed, he played just eight matches in all competitions at club level in 2021, while his last appearance for Spain was against Kosovo last March.

The Ligue 1 leaders also announced ahead of their meeting with Rennes that Ander Herrera is on course to return to training on Sunday.

While PSG's injury issues are clearing up, Madrid are still unsure whether star striker Karim Benzema will be available after missing Madrid's most recent two games.

Benzema has scored in his past four Champions League appearances, netting five times in total, but faces a race against time to be fit.

"If he is not there, it would be a big loss for Madrid," Pochettino said. "He's one of the best strikers in the world. 

"He's a great player who shows his talent in a club like Real year after year. But I'm not saying that it will benefit PSG because Real have a very large squad."

Perhaps there is something special to February 5. Or at least there is when it comes to world-class footballers.

On this day in 1985, Cristiano Ronaldo was born on the island of Madeira. Seven years later, Neymar came into the world in Mogi das Cruzes, in the Brazilian state of Sao Paulo.

Two of modern football's greats being born on the same day is quite the quirk, but while Ronaldo has gone on to cement himself as one of the best ever, it's hard to shake the feeling Neymar has never quite lived up to his extraordinary potential.

He emerged at Santos as Brazil's golden boy, a bona fide superstar in the making. By the time he left for Barcelona in 2013 at the age of 21, he was already been talked up as a shoo-in for a Ballon d'Or success.

Yet, as the forward hits 30, no Ballon d'Or has arrived. Indeed, he finished 16th in the voting for the 2021 award, and his move to Paris Saint-Germain has not seen him scale new individual heights.

Instead, he has been somewhat overshadowed by Kylian Mbappe, one of the new kids on the block, and it was his team-mate and close friend Lionel Messi who claimed a record-extending seventh Ballon d'Or last year.

Ronaldo, meanwhile, turns 37 back at the club where he became a global star.

Manchester United may not be the force they were under Alex Ferguson in Ronaldo's first stint, but his shock return to Old Trafford was a sensational story, and he continues to provide match-winning moments even if the comeback hasn't quite transformed the Red Devils into title contenders.

Using Opta data, Stats Perform looks back at what Neymar has achieved so far in his career, and how that stacks up against Ronaldo's feats by the time his twenties were over.

The trophies

Ronaldo was at Real Madrid when he turned 30 in 2015, a year after collecting his third Ballon d'Or, and a year prior to receiving his fourth. He went on to claim what was at the time a record-equalling fifth in 2017.

By the time he hit 30, Ronaldo had won four league titles (three Premier League wins, one in LaLiga), five domestic cup trophies and had enjoyed two Champions League triumphs. He had two Club World Cup successes to his name, and the UEFA Super Cup.

He played a pivotal role in Ferguson's dominant United team of the 2000s, combining with the likes of Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez in a thrilling attack to win three successive Premier League titles between 2007 and 2009, before his departure to Madrid in a then world-record transfer. His maiden Champions League success came in 2007-08, and he left United after losing to Barcelona in the 2009 final.

Indeed, Barca were the dominant force upon Ronaldo's arrival at the Santiago Bernabeu, and for much of the time before he turned 30.

In total, Ronaldo had won 16 major trophies by the time his twenties ended. Neymar, on the other hand, had already won six titles by the time he left Santos.

He added a further two league crowns to his name in Spain and won the Copa del Rey on three occasions, as well as the Champions League, Club World Cup and the Supercopa de Espana once each.

The Champions League has evaded Neymar so far at PSG, though he nevertheless has a trophy count of 10 and counting from his time in France, while unlike Ronaldo, he can count an Olympic gold – earned in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 – among his honours.

Neymar has won 28 titles, with 21 of those coming in Europe and one with the Selecao (Confederations Cup 2013). However, Neymar missed Brazil's triumphant 2019 Copa America campaign through injury.

The rivalries

Ronaldo was 28 when Barca signed Neymar for €86.2m. The days of the Guardiola-Jose Mourinho Clasico rivalry were over, though the clash was still littered with superstars on each side.

Prior to his 30th birthday, Ronaldo featured in 22 Clasico matches, starting 21 times. He scored 14 goals and provided one assist across 1,928 minutes of action. 

Neymar played against Ronaldo's Madrid in four of these games, scoring twice, including on his Clasico debut when he opened the scoring and teed up Alexis Sanchez's sublime winner in a 2-1 Barca victory.

Barca won two of the four Clasico games in which Neymar played while Ronaldo was in his 20s, with Madrid taking the bragging rights in the other games.

Neymar's overall Clasico record stands at three goals and as many assists from eight appearances.

The goals

Neymar has scored 195 goals in European club football since arriving at Barca in 2013. 

It is hardly a total to be scoffed at, yet it pales in comparison to the 411 Ronaldo had managed across his spells with Sporting CP, United and Madrid by his 30th birthday.

Indeed, by February 5, 2015, Ronaldo had already netted 36 goals in all competitions in 2014-15. He finished that campaign with an incredible 61 goals, the highest single-season total of his career.

That 61-goal haul came towards the tail-end of a run in which Ronaldo netted at least 50 times in six straight seasons. Neymar's best tally in a single campaign stands at 39 (2014-15), while his totals at PSG have dropped year-on-year, with his total for 2021-22 standing at three in all competitions, compared to Ronaldo's 14.

Ronaldo is also now of course the outright leading goalscorer in the history of international football, having overtaken Iran great Ali Daei.

The Portugal captain has netted 115 times for his country, with 52 of those coming in his twenties.

Interestingly, Neymar wins out by 18 goals in this regard, totalling 70 across 11 years of playing for Brazil. 

He still has some way to go to catch Ronaldo, who is of course still going strong for Portugal, though that is one target that may well be in Neymar's sights should he match Ronaldo's longevity.

That being said, Neymar's injury record would suggest that, unlike Ronaldo and Messi, his chances of going down as one of the all-time greats appear slim heading into his thirties.

Brazil head coach Tite is bullish that Philippe Coutinho can help replace the injured Neymar in his first appearance in national colours for more than 12 months.

Coutinho, who earlier this month joined Aston Villa on loan from Barcelona, is set to line up for Selecao in place of the suspended Lucas Paqueta in Thursday's World Cup qualifier away to Ecuador.

The 29-year-old has not played for Brazil since October 2020 having undergone knee surgery in January 2021.

Coutinho's return coincides with the absence of Neymar who is out for the upcoming qualifiers with an ankle injury.

"People always want Neymar, but at times things don't happen the way you want," Tite told reporters.

"We feel sorry that Neymar can't be here, but we have other options. I'm talking about Coutinho. He is a player that can play in that role and I believe in his quality.

"Coutinho is an important player and he's been recovering to his best level."

He added: "From a social and human standpoint, I know how much time he has invested and the challenges he has faced to recover from injury."

Ex-Liverpool forward Coutinho has started life at Villa brightly, netting the equalizing goal in the 2-2 draw with Manchester United on debut.

Brazil have already clinched their spot at Qatar 2022, but Tite wanted to push his players in the qualifiers against Ecuador and also Paraguay on Tuesday.

"I thought the emotions and feelings would be lighter but no, we have the same emotions and anxieties," Tite said.

"I want to test players in the upcoming qualifiers. I still have the same pressure."

Tite confirmed that he will field Real Madrid's Vinicius Junior against Ecuador along with Raphinha and Matheus Cunha.

Brazil duo Neymar and Vinicius Jr could thrive in the same starting XI, despite both forwards preferring to play in the same position, according to Juninho.

While Neymar is out injured, Vinicius has been called up for Brazil's World Cup qualifiers against Ecuador and Paraguay over the coming week.

Vinicius has only made nine appearances for Brazil and is yet to score for his country, only starting twice – against Chile in September and Argentina in November respectively.

Up until this season, the Real Madrid winger had struggled for consistency, but under the tutelage of Carlo Ancelotti, he has thrived for Los Blancos.

Only Karim Benzema (33) has more direct goal contributions for Madrid in all competitions than Vinicius, who has scored 15 times and provided eight assists.

 

Neymar, meanwhile, has had another stuttering season with Paris Saint-Germain, making just 14 appearances in all competitions and completing 90 minutes only nine times.

However, should he be fit, Neymar will no doubt be Brazil's main man heading to Qatar in November.

With Vinicius in such fine form, though, his place in Tite's squad also seems a certainty, and asked if the attackers - who both play predominantly from the left wing in a 4-3-3 formation - could feature together, Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) director Juninho believes there is no reason why not.

"The two of them can play together," Juninho told Spanish radio show El Larguero.

"Vinicius shows his quality at Madrid and is beginning to show it for the national team now.

"He's improving every game. Now he's been playing very well for a while.

"Like [Philippe] Coutinho or [Lucas] Paqueta, they can also play together."

Juninho may be convinced Neymar and Vinicius fit into the same side, but neither would be suited to playing in a central role in Tite's preferred 4-3-3 system, while both are at their best when given the freedom to drift inside from the left, rather than the right.

 

Neymar is having a poor season in terms of end product. He has only scored three goals (and one of those was a penalty) and provided as many assists, while he has also underperformed his expected goals (xG) of 4.3, suggesting his finishing has been below par.

Vinicius, on the other hand, has outperformed his xG (12), averaging a goal every 169 minutes for Madrid.

The 21-year-old has also created 64 chances in comparison to Neymar's 28. However, when assessed per 90 minutes, the former Barcelona star crafts 2.1 opportunities, which is not far behind Vinicius' 2.3.

Neymar is also a more proficient dribbler, completing 3.6 dribbles per 90 minutes in comparison to Vinicius' 3.4, while he also creates 0.5 big chances per 90, as opposed to the Madrid man's 1.6.

Lionel Messi remains the best player in the world in Ander Herrera's eyes and the midfielder expects Kylian Mbappe to dominate world football "for many years to come".

Messi ended a glorious 21-year association with Barcelona amid well-documented financial difficulties for the Catalan club as he moved to the Parc des Princes on a free transfer in August.

The Argentina international reunited with Neymar to form a formidable frontline with Kylian Mbappe, while Mauricio Pochettino also brought in Sergio Ramos, Achraf Hakimi, Gianluigi Donnarumma and Georginio Wijnaldum.

Paris Saint-Germain, buoyed by their new array of attacking talent, sit 13 points clear at the top of Ligue 1, although Messi is yet to fully fire as he continues to settle into life in France.

Messi netted 672 times in 778 appearances for his former club, but he has only found the net on six occasions for PSG across all competitions – averaging a goal every 219 minutes.

However, Herrera still believes Messi is comfortably the best player in the world and insisted Pochettino's side are learning to adapt around the forward, such is the 34-year-old's quality.

"Players of Messi's level shorten the acclimatisation time," Herrera told Mundo Deportivo. "He will play the same way in France, in Spain, in Japan or in Madagascar.

"He has won his seventh Ballon d'Or and trains and enjoys as if he were only starting to play now. No training action is taken as a joke.

"At times we have already seen the best version of Leo, as against [Manchester] City at home, but I think it is also the responsibility of all those around him. We have to put ourselves at his service to get the best out of him. Normally, regular players have to adapt to a new context. 

"Now it is the other way around because we are talking about the best footballer in history."

Mbappe has outshone Messi thus far, the France international managing 15 goals – scoring every 134 minutes – and 12 assists across all competitions this term.

Indeed, since the 23-year-old scored on his PSG debut on September 8, 2017, against Metz, only three players – Robert Lewandowski (208), Messi (168) and Cristiano Ronaldo (157) – have managed more goals across Europe's top-five leagues in all competitions than Mbappe (147).

But Herrera believes Messi still holds the edge over Mbappe, who the Spain international thinks will dominate football for years to come.

"Kylian will be the best player in the world for many years to come, but we all agree that Leo is number one," Herrera added. "No doubt. Mbappe has an immense humility and desire to learn from Leo."

A new contract for Mbappe has also been at the forefront of most discussions, with Real Madrid plotting a move for the former Monaco man, whose current contract expires at the end of the season.

Madrid had multiple advances turned down for Mbappe in the last transfer window, though they can open contract negotiations with the PSG forward in January should a new deal with his current club not be agreed.

But Herrera remains confident Mbappe will stay with Pochettino's side.

"There is scope to try to renew Mbappe," he said. "We have many examples of footballers who have done it in February, March or April. There's still time.

"He is an open, friendly, funny guy. We do not pressure each other at all about our futures. I'm not kidding you, we don't talk about anyone's contractual issues in the dressing room."

Former Clasico foes but now team-mates, Ramos also followed Messi as he ended a long-standing association with Madrid to move to Paris.

However, the centre-back has been hampered by injuries and received a red card in just his third outing for his new side against Lorient on Wednesday, but Herrera expects his compatriot to become a key figure.

"Of course [It has not been easy for him]," he said of Ramos. "He's used to feeling important, playing and leading. But he has now been training for two or three weeks at a fantastic level and we are optimistic.

"It shows in his character and in the happiness he radiates."

With Ramos and Messi among a depth of talent on PSG's books, Herrera understands there is more pressure on PSG now to win the Champions League, though he feels Madrid are favourites for their Champions League last-16 tie in early 2022.

"We want to win the Champions League and we are going to try," he added. "There's no doubt. But just because we have Messi doesn't mean we're entitled to more than everyone else.

"We understand that people expect the best from us, but in Europe there are eight or ten other teams with the same chances of winning.

"A club that has 13 Champions League titles, against one that has not yet been European champions, has to be a slight favourite."

Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain each have four nominees in the 23-man shortlist for the FIFA FIFPRO Men's World 11 for 2021.

Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson and full-back Trent Alexander-Arnold are also included, although there is no place for Mohamed Salah.

PSG's attacking trio of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe are among the forwards, as is Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo.

Veteran Dani Alves also won enough votes to make the list, even though the 38-year-old, who recently rejoined Barcelona, only played 16 times in domestic competition in Brazil this year.

Professional footballers across the world were asked to vote for the three players they considered to have the best seasons during the 2020-21 season among goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders and forwards.

FIFPRO said: "For the first time in 17 years, FIFPRO is updating the announcement about the most-voted players, reducing the shortlist from 55 to 23. This has been done to resemble a real-life 'squad' which, usually for international competitions, is the number of players involved. 

"The three goalkeepers, six defenders, six midfielders and six forwards with the most votes earned a place in the 23-men World 11 'squad'. To complete this elite selection, the two remaining outfield players with the most votes were added."

The keeper, three defenders, three midfielders and three forwards with the most votes will be chosen for the World 11, with the remaining spot assigned to the outfield player with the next highest number of votes.

The final 11 will be announced at The Best FIFA Football Awards ceremony on January 17.

 

FIFA FIFPRO MEN'S WORLD 11 23-PLAYER SHORTLIST:

Goalkeepers:
Alisson (Liverpool, Brazil)
Gianluigi Donnarumma (Milan/Paris Saint-Germain, Italy)
Edouard Mendy (Chelsea, Senegal)

Defenders:
David Alaba (Bayern Munich/Real Madrid, Austria)
Jordi Alba (Barcelona, Spain)
Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool, England)
Dani Alves (Sao Paulo/Barcelona, Brazil)
Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus, Italy)
Ruben Dias (Manchester City, Portugal)

Midfielders:
Sergio Busquets (Barcelona, Spain)
Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City, Belgium)
Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United, Portugal)
Frenkie de Jong (Barcelona, The Netherlands)
Jorginho (Chelsea, Italy)
N'Golo Kante (Chelsea, France)

Forwards:
Karim Benzema (Real Madrid, France)
Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus/Manchester United, Portugal)
Erling Haaland (Borussia Dortmund, Norway)
Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich, Poland)
Romelu Lukaku (Inter/Chelsea, Belgium)
Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain, France)
Lionel Messi (Barcelona/Paris Saint-Germain, Argentina)
Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain, Brazil)

Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe admitted he was "disappointed" not to join LaLiga powerhouse Real Madrid after his failed off-season transfer.

With his contract expiring at the end of the 2021-22 campaign, Mbappe was heavily tipped to swap PSG for Madrid, who have made no secret of their admiration.

However, a transfer did not materialise as Ligue 1 giants PSG – still determined to re-sign the France international – refused to part with Mbappe.

Madrid are expected to sign Mbappe as a free agent at the end of the current campaign but the 22-year-old was asked about his frustration at the failed swich to the Santiago Bernabeu.

"Disappointed with not leaving? A little," Mbappe told Amazon while speaking to France great Thierry Henry.

"It's not easy, but whatever happened, I was going to play for a great club. I'm Parisian, I feel great, but I wanted to discover something else."

Speculation had mounted about Mbappe's future at Euro 2020, when the forward missed the decisive spot-kick in France's last-16 penalty shoot-out defeat to Switzerland.

Mbappe failed to score at the Euros and provided one assist as world champions France fell well short.

"During the Euros they asked me a lot of questions. I talked a lot with my parents, I knew I wanted to go out," Mbappe said. "My parents told me to concentrate on the pitch. Maybe I was putting too much energy into other things."

Mbappe, who joined PSG from French rivals Monaco initially on loan in 2017, has won three Ligue 1 titles with the capital club.

PSG top Ligue 1 this season, boasting an 11-point advantage over Rennes after 17 rounds.

Despite PSG's lead, Mbappe, Neymar and off-season signing Lionel Messi are yet to fully play a cohesive attacking brand of football.

"We are aware that the three of us must do more, we cannot hide, we assume it," Mbappe said.

"If I am the boss? It is difficult when you are in a team with Neymar and Messi, it would be audacious to say it, although it matters little."

Mbappe has been involved in 15 goals this season in Ligue 1 (seven goals, eight assists), with only Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski (17), Madrid forward Karim Benzema (19) and Liverpool star Mohamed Salah (22) doing better in the top five European league.

In the 1-1 draw against Lens, Mbappe was decisive in coming off the bench for the first time in the top flight since 5 December 2020 (goal against Montpellier).

Mauricio Pochettino challenged Paris Saint-Germain to adapt and find the best tactical balance in the absence of the injured Neymar.

The Brazil forward has been ruled out for six to eight weeks after sustaining ankle ligament damage against Saint-Etienne last weekend.

Neymar was carried off during the final stages of Sunday's 3-1 win in Ligue 1, and will not play again in 2021.

Speaking ahead of PSG's home match against Nice on Wednesday, Pochettino expressed his sympathy for Neymar, who has registered three goals and three assists in 10 league appearances this season.

Nevertheless, the head coach insists his side must demonstrate their ability to cope during his spell on the sidelines.

"I'm sad for him because he's someone who loves to play football above all else," Pochettino said.

"We are not trying to replace Neymar, but to find solutions to have the best tactical balance.

"We feel that we are facing a challenge that makes us grow as a team and as a staff. 

"These are problems that arise and to which solutions must be found.

"I think the principle of the team, of the game is going to be there. 

"We will continue to develop what we want since the beginning of the year beyond the players who are there on the field."

Neymar, Harry Kane and Erling Haaland are among the most notable players to have missed out on the top 10 of the Ballon d'Or.

The first 20 names from the 30-man shortlist have been announced, with Haaland just failing to break in at 11th, while Neymar is 16th and Harry Kane is down in 23rd.

Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku, who led Inter to their first Serie A title in 10 years last season, is just behind Haaland in 12th, while Manchester United's Bruno Fernandes did not make the top 20, finishing joint-21st in the voting.

Of players from Europe's top five leagues, only Bayern Munich centre-forward and Ballon d'Or favourite Robert Lewandowski scored more goals in all competitions than Haaland's 38, which the Norway forward netted at a rapid rate of one every 87.66 minutes.

While the Borussia Dortmund sensation, who scored his 50th Bundesliga goal in as many games on Saturday, can count himself unlucky not to feature higher up on the list, the same cannot be said for Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar.

The Brazil forward, who finished third in 2015 and 2017, had an underwhelming, injury hit year in which he scored just 11 goals and recorded eight assists for PSG across all competitions, although he did reach the Copa America final with Brazil, losing out to club team-mate Lionel Messi.

Kane won the Premier League golden boot award in 2020-21, and topped the assist charts before helping England to a Euro 2020 final.

However, Tottenham finished seventh in the Premier League and the England captain - who had a prospective move to Manchester City break down - has only a solitary top-flight strike to his name this term.

Lukaku recorded the same tally as Kane, but did help Inter to a first Serie A title in 10 years, while Fernandes, who split 21st place with Inter's Lautaro Martinez, hit one less, but did also record 17 assists for United.

Manchester City's Ruben Dias, Phil Foden, Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling were placed joint-26th, 25th, 20th and 15th respectively, while 2018 Ballon d'Or winner Luka Modric was 29th alongside Cesar Azpilicueta.

The Chelsea captain's team-mate Mason Mount was 19th, with Luis Suarez 17th, the Uruguay forward having played a pivotal role in Atletico Madrid's LaLiga success last term.

Italy defenders Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini came 14th and 13th, with compatriot Nicolo Barella sharing 26th place with Dias and Villarreal's Gerard Moreno.

Barcelona youngster Pedri enjoyed a wonderful year, and was ranked at 24th.

The top 10 players remaining are: Lionel Messi, Robert Lewandowski, Cristiano Ronaldo, Mohamed Salah, Karim Benzema, Kevin De Bruyne, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Jorginho, N'Golo Kante and Kylian Mbappe.

Paris Saint-Germain have confirmed Neymar will be out for six to eight weeks with an ankle injury.

The Brazil star was taken off on a stretcher during the closing stages of the 3-1 win over Saint-Etienne and was seen leaving the stadium on crutches.

Head coach Mauricio Pochettino said he did not expect the injury to be serious, but tests have shown Neymar has sprained the ligaments in his left ankle.

PSG said on Monday that a further update on his recovery time would follow this week.

Should Neymar be sidelined for two months, he would miss eight games in all competitions, including PSG's final Champions League group game against Club Brugge and the league trip to Lyon on January 8.

The 29-year-old has struggled for top form in 2021-22, managing three goals and three assists in 14 appearances in all competitions.

Mauricio Pochettino hopes that Neymar has not sustained a serious injury, though conceded the images he has seen of the incident do not look good.

Neymar had to be taken off on a stretcher late on after suffering an ankle injury in Paris Saint-Germain's win over Saint-Etienne on Sunday, shortly after Angel Di Maria had made it 2-1 to the Ligue 1 leaders.

Marquinhos then headed in his second goal of the game to round off a difficult 3-1 victory, though focus was on Neymar's injury in Pochettino's post-match media duties.

Neymar was pictured leaving the ground on crutches and while hopeful the forward will make a swift recovery, Pochettino explained PSG must wait for a full diagnosis on Monday.

"There is nothing more to say for the moment, it is the pain he felt in the leg with his ankle that turned. We will have the exams tomorrow and we will see," Pochettino told a news conference.

Pochettino had previously told Amazon Prime: "We will have to see this tomorrow but from the images, I hope that it's not a big deal and that he will be back with the squad quickly. But the action is not good."

Neymar subsequently posted an update to his official Instagram account.

"Let's recover, unfortunately these setbacks are part of an athlete's life," he wrote. "Now that's what you have, lift your head and let's go. I'll come back better and stronger."

Should Neymar face a lengthy absence, PSG can at least rest assured they can still field a star-studded front three, with Di Maria proving his worth against Saint-Etienne as he scored in successive league appearances for the first time since November 2019.

PSG also, of course, have Lionel Messi, who provided all three assists in the victory – the third time in his career he has set up three goals in a single league match. 

At the back, Sergio Ramos made his long-awaited bow, becoming PSG's oldest debutant since David Beckham in 2013.

Denis Bouanga put Saint-Etienne ahead, meaning PSG came back to win after conceding the opening goal for the fifth time in Ligue 1 this season, already equalling their best tally for comeback victories in a full season, set four times before (2014-15, 2011-12, 2003-04, 1985-86).

Neymar suffered a potentially serious injury as Paris Saint-Germain laboured to a 3-1 win over 10-man Saint-Etienne.

Looking for a response after their defeat to Manchester City in midweek, not to mention the speculation over Mauricio Pochettino's future, PSG fell flat for much of Sunday's game but Angel Di Maria and Marquinhos came up with the goods late on.

Marquinhos had earlier cancelled out Denis Bouanga's opener, after Timothee Kolodziejczak was sent off for the struggling hosts.

However, PSG will now hold concern over Neymar, who had to be taken off on a stretcher with an apparent ankle injury between the visitors' late goals.

Angel Di Maria is open to playing in midfield for Paris Saint-Germain as he looks to secure more game time, and believes it could be his best position.

Di Maria has been a star for PSG since joining the Ligue 1 giants from Manchester United in 2015.

The attacker has made 274 appearances for PSG across all competitions, scoring 89 goals and providing a further 107 assists.

Since he joined PSG, no player has played more games than the Argentine, who has also crafted 669 chances, way ahead of Neymar, who ranks second in the squad with 350. Indeed, Di Maria is 41 assists ahead of Kylian Mbappe (66), and only three players have scored more goals in the same timeframe.

Di Maria only signed a new contract in March, he has not been able to nail down a regular starting berth so far this term.

Mauricio Pochettino has a wealth of options at his disposal, and can hardly be blamed for starting Neymar, Mbappe and Lionel Messi, who arrived from Barcelona in August, in a sensational attacking trident.

While the trio have not yet clicked to their full potential, Di Maria has often been the man left out. The 33-year-old has made just 10 appearances this season, scoring twice and setting up a further three goals.

Having started seven games, Di Maria creates 2.42 chances per 90 minutes on average, showing his playmaking abilities are still as good as ever.

In fact, despite his lack of minutes, Di Maria has only created fewer chances than Neymar (28) and Mbappe (33) in 2021-22.

With Messi, Mbappe and Neymar needing to be accommodated up front, Pochettino has often gone with a more workman-like midfield three.

However, Di Maria, who was excellent in a deeper role in his final season at Real Madrid in 2013-14, is hoping he gets the chance to show his quality in midfield.

"I think I've already shown that I can play in that position. In fact, it was my best year at Real Madrid, in 2014," Di Maria told RMC Sport.

"The manager knows I can play there, but then it's down to decisions. He's there to decide and we're there to do as best as we can on the pitch, no matter where, in midfield, up front, or elsewhere.

"Those are questions for him, the only thing I've done since I arrived at PSG has been to give it my all when on the pitch.

"It's true that I like to play with the ball at my feet. In 2014 I played in midfield and I felt very good, really happy. With quality players at PSG like Marco [Verratti], Leandro [Paredes] or Gana [Idrissa Gueye] it could work, but those are the manager's decisions."

 

Last season, Di Maria scored two goals, created 14 chances and provided three assists in Ligue 1 from attacking carries, suggesting he may be suited to playing deeper to drive with the ball and supply the attack. 

Although frustrated by a lack of regular action, Di Maria understands the reasons.

"When you have those three up front, it makes sense that the first option is to play them, they are the best on the pitch," he added.

"With what they've won, and who they are, it gives all three of them a different status. Or at least to two of them, because Messi is different to the others. He's the best player in the world and he always has to be on the pitch.

"But I'm always trying to give it 100 per cent to get into the starting XI. I know that it's not easy for me given the players in my position. That's why I'm doing as much as I can to maybe find a different option."

Pep Guardiola felt Manchester City showed they learnt their lesson from the September defeat to Paris Saint-Germain as they defeated the Parisians 2-1 on Wednesday.

City secured top spot in Group A thanks to the victory, becoming just the second English club to win their group in five successive seasons in the competition's current format.

They had to do it the hard way as PSG took the lead through Kylian Mbappe early in the second half.

Raheem Sterling cancelled that out and then substitute Gabriel Jesus got the winner, making it the first Champions League match PSG have ever lost after opening the scoring themselves in the second half.

For a while, the match followed a very similar pattern to the two teams' first meeting of the season when PSG won 2-0 – once again City created comfortably the better chances, only to somehow be level at the break.

But while City failed to score despite racking up 1.9 expected goals (xG) in Paris and PSG netted twice from 0.46 xG, Guardiola's men saw their 1.99 xG in this one match up nicely with two strikes at the Etihad Stadium.

They were clinical, and that pleased Guardiola.

When it was put to him that the game was resembling the September meeting, Guardiola told BT Sport: "That's true, that's true. That's why it's a good lesson.

"You are losing – okay, you have to continue. It's 90 minutes, more than 90 minutes, you have to continue.

"The games are long, we knew the draw was a good result for us, but fortunately in the end we won.

"We did again a good performance like the first game. Unfortunately, in the first half we couldn't convert the chances and after the goal, we suffered, but after that, with our people [fans], thank you so much to the people for coming, it was a lovely night for us."

PSG's famed front three of Mbappe, Neymar and Lionel Messi only mustered five shots between them, with the Parisians' overall xG total kept to a relatively low 1.1.

Of course, they hardly needed a sniff at the Parc des Princes, but Guardiola was generally pleased with how City coped this time.

"I always believe with these players that the further they are from our goal, we are safer," he added. "The closer they are, they find spaces.

"Look at the action when Neymar was through on the goalkeeper and mishit. They create from nothing.

"They are too good up front, and we had to defend as a team. If you believe one guy is going to solve the quality they have, it's impossible.

"We were there with good composure and at the end, I don't know the stats but I think we were brilliant again today and that's good for us."

Gabriel Jesus's late winner saw Manchester City come from behind to beat Paris Saint-Germain 2-1 on Wednesday, sealing top spot in Group A for Pep Guardiola's men.

Mauricio Pochettino, who has been linked with City's neighbours Manchester United, needed his team to avoid defeat if they were to stand a chance of winning the group, but ultimately the hosts' dominance told.

Guardiola would have been frustrated with the amount of chances City spurned in the first half, though, particularly given Kylian Mbappe then put PSG in front four minutes into the second period.

PSG had improved considerably as an attacking threat, but City upped the intensity again and deservedly levelled through Raheem Sterling, before substitute Jesus completed an impressive victory.

RB Leipzig's win at Club Brugge means PSG will qualify for the knockout phase regardless, however.

City appeared in control almost from the outset, first going close after six minutes when Rodri's glancing header was cleared off the line by Presnel Kimpembe.

Keylor Navas then denied Riyad Mahrez at full-stretch shortly after Ilkay Gundogan hit the post from the centre of the box, with PSG creating precious little at the other end.

But PSG took a rare chance early in the second half, when Mbappe drilled through Ederson's legs after Lionel Messi's cross at the end of a flowing move fell kindly at the back post.

City's equaliser 13 minutes later was similarly well-worked, though, Rodri picking out Kyle Walker at the far post, whose pass across the face of goal was nudged on by Jesus for Sterling to prod home.

Jesus then got the winner 14 minutes from time, guiding in a composed finished after being delicately teed up by Bernardo Silva.

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