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PSG: Neymar needs freedom to focus on his game, says Tuchel

Neymar should not have his creative influence diluted by captaincy pressures, according to Paris Saint-Germain boss Thomas Tuchel.

Tuchel says Neymar needs PSG freedom to prowl as Lyon test awaits

Neymar must be given freedom to focus on his game rather than having to worry about leadership duties, Paris Saint-Germain coach Thomas Tuchel said on Saturday. The French champions have an internal system whereby they have five captains, with on-field skipper Marquinhos supported by Presnel Kimpembe, Kylian Mbappé, Keylor Navas and Marco Verratti. Although Thiago Silva and Edinson Cavani left the club and that group at the end of last season, Neymar was not added to it. Given his seniority, the Brazilian may have been an obvious choice, but Tuchel wants Neymar to keep all his attention on scoring goals and creating for others.

Neymar has a lot on his mind

"I often speak to Neymar on his own and I'm always close to him. We speak a lot," said Tuchel, ahead of Sunday's Ligue 1 clash with Olympique Lyon. "It's important that he is free to say what he thinks. We often talk about tactics and also personal matters. At the moment he has so much going on in his head. He takes responsibility on the pitch. He is an artist. He is creative. For that reason, I don't want him to think about organisational matters. If there are very important matters to discuss he is one of our key players of course. It is not to do with him because I want him to stay focused on the pitch so that he can play with all of his freedom and creativity."

With Tuchel declaring on Saturday that injured striker Mauro Icardi is unlikely to play again until the new year, the onus falls increasingly on the likes of Neymar and Mbappé to keep the goals flowing for PSG. After a rocky patch of form, PSG have strung together three straight wins, beating both Manchester United and Montpellier by 3-1 margins before trouncing Istanbul Basaksehir 5-1 on Wednesday. That game was delayed a day after racism allegations against a fourth official on Tuesday caused the game to be postponed.

PSG players with less time to rest

A knock-on effect was that PSG's players were denied the two-day break that Tuchel had planned for them, and he knows Lyon, who missed out on this season's European competitions, have had a full week to prepare for their big clash at the Parc des Princes. Tuchel identified Memphis Depay as a major threat to PSG, speaking of his ability to roam and find space, and said Lyon are a team who show "bravery" and "almost have the same quality that we do".

He pinpointed Lyon and Lille as the Ligue 1 sides who provide competition on a level comparable to the Champions League. Lyon, however, have a miserable recent record against PSG in the capital, having not won any of their past 12 away trips, losing 10 of those games and drawing the other two. Their last league win at the Parc des Princes came in October 2007, a 2-3 success in which Hatem Ben Arfa scored twice for the visitors.

Aouar would fit in ay team

Tuchel believes Lyon midfielder Houssem Aouar, linked with PSG among a host of clubs, has the quality to play for any team. "We have respect for all clubs and players so we don't talk about other players, but it's clear that Houssem Aouar is a key player for Lyon and the national team," Tuchel said of the France star. It is obvious he could play in any team in the world. He's a fantastic player and has been key for Lyon so we need to prepare well to face him."

Providing cause for concern for Tuchel is the fact PSG, despite leading Ligue 1 going into the weekend, have already lost three times. Lyon, meanwhile, are unbeaten in their past 10 (W6 D4). Tuchel said PSG's defeats were "not good news" and "purely our fault", and it means they have lost three times in their opening 13 league games for the second successive season.