PARIS — Paris Saint-Germain coach Unai Emery has stated his belief that Neymar will stay with the club and help them to future glory amid speculation over his happiness at Parc des Princes.
Neymar was reduced to tears during a postmatch news conference while on international duty with Brazil last week following recent reports claiming that he wants to return to Barcelona, the club he left for a world-record €222 million this summer.
“It is the same for all players when they are adapting to a new city, a new club, new teammates and that sort of thing,” Emery said at his prematch news conference ahead of Saturday’s Ligue 1 clash with Nantes. “It is a process and it is like that with all of the new guys.
“Conversations with all of the players, Neymar included, are to discuss all of those sorts of things — he is doing better and better.”
Emery pointed out that while Neymar’s happiness in Paris and future are being questioned, the 25-year-old is performing well on the pitch — with seven goals and five assists from eight appearances in Ligue 1 — and that is what matters to the PSG boss.
“What happens on the pitch remains the most important thing,” Emery said. “All of these rumours are not important. What counts are the discussions that I have with him — how to be in the squad, on the pitch but also about him.
“Players are professionals but they are also people. Some need affections, others need guidance. First of all, though, they need to be understood.”
Some reports have linked Neymar with a return to Spain and to Real Madrid.
In response to the Madrid speculation, Emery said: “We are very happy with him and he will succeed here. I do not know what is being said. Everybody here is happy though. He will stay and succeed here.”
In team news ahead of the visit of Claudio Ranieri’s Nantes side on Saturday, Emery pointed out that Presnel Kimpembe is banned after accumulating too many yellow cards and also confirmed that Thiago Motta’s lingering knee problem will likely require an operation.
“Presnel is suspended,” Emery said. “The internationals are all doing fine — we hope that Julian [Draxler] and Thomas [Meunier] will be able to train on the eve of the match.
“Thiago has been forced to stop [his recovery]. Since Montpellier [in September], he has been in pain. He has continued to train but he saw the doctor to work out the best course of action — we will see which decision is the best to take.”
Asked if PSG will look to bring in a replacement in January for the injured Motta, Emery said: “When he plays, Thiago is powerful. We are going to wait. He might not be able to play but others are waiting for their turn — we have 10 games over 33 days coming up.
“We will see at a later date for the transfer window. The club is focusing on the present and the future, I am only looking at the present.”
PSG confirmed earlier on Thursday that Motta is almost certain to require “arthroscopic cleaning” of his right knee, which will likely rule him out until early 2018.
Jonathan Johnson covers PSG and the French national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @Jon_LeGossip.