Clubs, French Ligue 1, Paris Saint-Germain, Story

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PARIS — New Paris Saint-Germain coach Thomas Tuchel has declared that he is unafraid of coaching stars like Neymar and Kylian Mbappe after being officially unveiled as Unai Emery’s successor at Parc des Princes on Sunday.

Emery oversaw a goalless draw in Caen on Saturday in his final game in charge of PSG and his replacement Tuchel was quick to stress that he is not daunted by the prospect of taking control of a dressing room filled with top talent but characters to match.

“I say that the top players are the ones who work hardest,” Tuchel said. “They are the easiest to handle — they know what it takes to stay at the best level. I am not afraid of star names.”

Most prominent in PSG’s array of star talent is Brazil international Neymar, who has recently been linked with a summer move to Real Madrid.

Tuchel was enthusiastic about working with the former Barcelona man and revealed that their first meeting went well.

“I met Neymar last Sunday — it went very well!” said Tuchel. “He is an artist, exceptional! Any artist gets treated accordingly — he is a truly exceptional player.

“I very much enjoyed our meeting and found him very friendly. We talked football and tactics. I saw a smile on his face and that is what I want to see from Neymar.”

Tuchel, who has previously coached Borussia Dortmund and Mainz, stressed the importance of creating a structure at PSG and then maintaining it in order to win the biggest titles.

“We must take care of the structure, day after day, from the start,” the 44-year-old said. “It is too early to speak about victories and titles.

“It is the start and we will be ready — I am ready to start tomorrow but we must wait until July.”

Pep Guardiola’s influence on Tuchel is well-documented and the man from Krumbach did not hide his admiration for the Manchester City coach when asked if he would try to replicate the Spaniard’s work with the Premier League champions.

“We are PSG — we want to be the best PSG possible,” said Tuchel, before adding that PSG director Maxwell would also have a role to play. “I want PSG to play our own way. Pep is a reference for me. However, I will have Maxwell here, somebody who is able to help me identify and develop a mindset.

“When Pep worked in Barcelona, he introduced a particular mindset and that is what I want to create here.

“I want the players to view cup matches against second-tier clubs with the same importance as Champions League games.”

When questioned on this summer’s transfer window, Tuchel declared that “if the transfer window closed today, I would be very happy — I am confident in those who built this squad.”

Departing Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon has been heavily linked with a move to PSG and sources recently told ESPN FC that a two-year contract has been offered to the Italian legend.

On Buffon, Tuchel said: “I cannot give you a detailed answer — I do not want to start speculation. I find it difficult to imagine Juventus and Italy without Buffon. He is an incredible personality and has had an exceptional career.”

Finally, on potential arrivals from Germany’s Bundesliga, Tuchel acknowledged that “this club and this city are very attractive.”

He added: “First of all, it will be necessary to get to know the players here before looking at additions. My greatest wish is that the fans love the spirit of this team.”

Tuchel and members of his squad not involved in this summer’s World Cup in Russia will meet on July 2 for the start of preseason training.

Jonathan Johnson covers PSG and the French national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @Jon_LeGossip.

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