Clubs, Manchester United, Neymar, Paris Saint-Germain, Story, UEFA Champions League

Paris Saint-Germain coach Thomas Tuchel is doubtful that superstar Neymar will be fit to face Manchester United in the first leg of their Champions League last 16 tie with the Brazil international’s situation “very difficult” ahead of the encounter away at Old Trafford next month.

Both Neymar and Marco Verratti are fighting to be fit to face United in European action on Feb. 12 after the South American suffered an injury to his right foot, which was operated on last year, during Wednesday’s Coupe de France win over Strasbourg and was taken off in the second half.

Neymar was in tears as he left the pitch, while a PSG statement confirmed that he has suffered a recurrence of the metatarsal injury that threatened his World Cup hopes last year, and Tuchel doubts that he will be fit in time for the opening leg.

“It will be very difficult,” the German tactician told Canal+ after a 4-1 Ligue 1 home win over Rennes on Sunday. “As I explained on Saturday, it is too early to talk about a possible return date.

“To start with, we must wait at least one week — this period and his reaction to the treatment will be important. Only then can we be more precise. That said, it is not a secret — it will be very difficult.”

PSG’s statement immediately after Neymar’s injury against Strasbourg made it clear that nothing has been ruled out as far as treatment goes — not even more surgery.

“Initial examinations have revealed a painful recurrence of his injury to the fifth metatarsal of his right foot,” the statement read. “The treatment of this injury will depend on how it evolves over the next few days. All options can be envisaged at this time.”

There has been no further comment from PSG since then, but medical sources at the club confirmed on Sunday that Brazil national team doctor Rodrigo Lasmar’s presence has been requested by Neymar and the French champions have invited him to assess the player.

Lasmar will arrive in Paris on Monday and take a look at the injury that he treated last year ahead of the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Meanwhile, Tuchel tried to see the funny side of the delayed completion of the signing of midfielder Leandro Paredes from Zenit Saint Petersburg.

“I have been waiting for him for a few days and each day, he is not here,” said the former Borussia Dortmund and Mainz 05 boss. “I have looked in the showers, the dressing room and on the treatment table — he is not there. I also hope for another midfield recruit, but we need one to start with.”

Presnel Kimpembe weighed in on Mbaye Niang’s dangerous tackle on Thilo Kehrer, which incredibly went without a red card — despite referee Karim Abed’s use of video assisted refereeing (VAR) to review the poor first half challenge — and felt that Niang could have ended Kehrer’s career.

“We all know that a tackle like that on Thilo could have ended his career,” the France international said post-match. “The worst part is that the referee watched the video back after the yellow card but did not change his mind and let the game continue.

“I got a three-match suspension for less than that! That said, I do admit that I made a mistake. I do not want to talk badly but it is really serious that the referee did not change his mind. I think that the referees, for those sorts of decisions, should be punished like us when we make mistakes.”

The incident attracted many comments from fellow players watching the game and they were almost unanimous that it had to be a red card for Niang, who himself took to social media after the incident to apologise.

“It was a poorly-timed tackle!” he tweeted. “I had no intention of hurting you and I am glad that you did not hurt yourself! Good luck between now and the end of the season, Thilo Kehrer — I am still sorry to both you and PSG!”

Edinson Cavani scored twice, while Angel Di Maria and Kylian Mbappe got one each as Niang scored for Rennes in the Parc des Princes encounter that saw PSG open up a provisional 13-point lead at the Ligue 1 summit.

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