PARIS — Paris Saint-Germain coach Unai Emery has claimed the Spanish media is trying to “destabilise” his team by linking superstar Neymar with a future move to their Champions League round-of-16 opponents Real Madrid.
The Ligue 1 leaders will tackle Zinedine Zidane’s ailing two-time defending continental champions at Santiago Bernabeu next month, and Emery hit out at the reports at his prematch news conference ahead of Sunday’s trip to face Claudio Ranieri’s Nantes.
“The squad is strong and concentrated on our next matches and the most important upcoming encounters, such as our trip to Madrid to face Real in the Champions League,” the Spaniard said at Camp des Loges on Friday. “The club is experienced and I have experience in this too. People can try to destabilise us from the outside.
“Look — a leading sports newspaper [Marca] is sending Neymar to Real again. This has not disturbed us, though. We know who wants to destabilise us but we are protecting ourselves. We will find some normality.”
Emery then went on to detail and praise the close relationship between himself, chairman and CEO Nasser Al-Khelaifi, sporting director Antero Henrique and the players.
“We speak together often, the president [Al-Khelaifi], Antero, the players and I,” said the Basque tactician from Hondarribia. “Communication is important at a club like PSG.
“This is a club that is growing a lot and generates a lot of outside interest and curiosity. We work together here.”
#LaPortada ‘Con Neymar en la cabeza’ https://t.co/vEidtmyjjs
— MARCA (@marca) January 12, 2018
Regarding the potential returns of Edinson Cavani and Javier Pastore to the squad for the trip to Nantes after they were left out of two cup games after their late returns from South America after the international break, Emery gave an update — on the Uruguay international, at least.
“Edinson resumed training on Monday and continues to work,” the former Sevilla boss said. “We are going to see how he is and then decide [if he is ready to face Nantes].”
Emery then stressed the importance of the players in his squad for the trip to Stade de la Beaujoire being ready for the encounter and refused to embellish his past views that Pastore is a talented player, who is important to the side — when fit and in form.
“I want to win the match in Nantes with players who are ready to play,” said the 46-year-old. “I am looking only at the present and you already know my opinion on Javier, I have told you many times in the past.
“After that, everything concerning the transfer window is Antero’s business.”
After Nantes away in Ligue 1 this weekend, PSG will host Dijon in Le Championnat and then take another road trip in the league, this time to Lyon.
Jonathan Johnson covers PSG and the French national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @Jon_LeGossip.