After lighting up Rio's legendary Maracanã stadium as well as Barcelona's magnificent Camp Nou, Neymar, the world's most expensive footballer will be welcomed to French football later tonight at Guingamp's modest, 17,000-capacity Stade du Rouduorou in sleepy Brittany.
Neymar expected to play the full 90 minutes on PSG debut
With the mundanity of transfer paperwork finally resolved, the 25-year-old Brazilian forward will line up for Paris Saint-Germain for the first time since his astonishing 222 million euro move from Barcelona. “He's physically ready to play the whole ninety minutes”, PSG coach Unai Emery told AFP. “He's been working well and we looked hard at tactics and free-kicks. We all want him in the starting XI; he's a player we need in the group”.
Even Guingamp coach Antoine Kombouare, himself a former PSG boss, wants Neymar to play despite the potential havoc he could wreak on the home defence. “I want the fans to come on Sunday to see Guingamp win... preferably against a side with Neymar in it”, he said.
It will be a major culture shock for Neymar in a town which has a population of just 7,000 and is best known for its annual Breton dance showcase, the Saint-Loup Festival. However, that's not to say that Guingamp do not have football pedigree - former Chelsea and Ivory Coast striker Didier Drogba spent a season at the club in 2002/2003 before joining Marseille. They were Coupe de France winners in 2009 and 2014, and last season beat PSG 2-1 in the corresponding league fixture.
International press in Brittany for Neymar debut
“We could have filled a stadium of 40,000 seats with no problem at all”, assured Guingamp president Bertrand Desplat, whose club budget is an eighth of what PSG paid for Neymar. Journalists from far and wide are expected for the game - the ground's press tribune, built to hold 80 people, has been extended to cater for 350. And a total of 145 stewards will be on duty at the ground - 30 more than usual.
Neymar, Javier Pastore and Ángel Di María are expected to be deployed in supporting roles behind striker Ederson Cavani in tonight’s match which kicks off at 21:00 CEST.