Paris Saint-Germain coach Unai Emery has ruled veteran midfielder Thiago Motta out of his starting XI for next week’s Champions League round-of-16 first-leg clash away at Real Madrid and possibly out of the squad as well.
The Spaniard was facing a headache ahead of the Santiago Bernabeu showdown with Motta, Lassana Diarra, Giovani Lo Celso and Adrien Rabiot all possibilities to play in the Italian’s deep-lying midfield role.
However, speaking during a postmatch press conference after a 1-0 win away at Toulouse in Ligue 1 on Saturday, Emery admitted that Motta had not proved his fitness, so will not be starting against the two-time defending champions in Spain.
“Thiago is a very important player for us,” Emery told journalists at Stadium Municipal. “However, because of injuries, he was away from the team for nearly four months. He has started to train and even played against Sochaux for a few minutes.
“We have been keeping an eye on his physical statistics to monitor his recovery, but it is too early for him to play a game of the intensity that we will see in Madrid next week.
“We have agreed, himself included, that he needs to train in order to get back up to speed in order to play — next Wednesday is too soon for Thiago.”
Layvin Kurzawa and Edinson Cavani both missed the win over Toulouse but Emery was reassuring on both players’ conditions and hinted that both could be passed fit to faced Real.
“This is a very important match and every player wants to play and take risks,” said Emery. “Layvin told me that he will be ready, but we will wait for all of the information from the doctor before deciding anything.
“Edinson has done some tests and seen the doctor, so he preferred not to train on Friday.
“The latest is that Edinson still feels a little discomfort, so we will see how he is on Monday.”
PSG travel to Madrid to face Real next midweek before a visit from Strasbourg in Ligue 1 and then a Marseille doubleheader in Le Championnat and the Coupe de France.
Jonathan Johnson covers PSG and the French national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @Jon_LeGossip.