PARIS — Neymar is back from his return to Brazil for family reasons and he has immediately been restored to Paris Saint-Germain’s squad for Saturday’s Ligue 1 clash away at Rennes.
The Brazilian superstar left Paris for his homeland last Saturday before the French capital outfit beat Lille 3-1 at Parc des Princes — a match he was suspended for anyway — and the 25-year-old returned in time to tune in and watch his teammates win 4-2 away at Strasbourg in the Coupe de la Ligue round of 16 on television.
PSG coach Unai Emery was optimistic that he would be able to call on Neymar’s services when he faced the press for his prematch conference at camp des Loges on Friday.
“He returned to Brazil,” the Spaniard told journalists. “He is fine and he should be available for Rennes.
“Neymar is used to travelling — he travels a lot with the national team. I think he is doing well physically. He trained normally on Thursday and everything is normal.
Emery added that he does “not think there is any risk of injury” playing Neymar so soon after his return and on a less than ideal Roazhon Park pitch.
The Basque tactician has also welcomed Thiago Motta back into the fold after a lengthy absence with a knee problem.
Emery has named the veteran Italy midfielder in his 18-man squad for the trip to Brittany and that will soften the blow of Adrien Rabiot’s continued absence.
According to the capital club’s official website, the Rabiot “is still recovering from a muscle injury [thigh], contracted against Troyes.”
Captain Thiago Silva is still missing after getting injured during the recent 3-1 Champions League defeat away at Bayern Munich, so youth academy product Stanley N’Soki remains part of the travelling party.
PSG’s official line on the Brazil international’s injury is that he is “still following a specific training program in order to get back to fitness.”
Rabiot and Silva are not the only regular starters missing, Layvin Kurzawa also remains injured and like the South American, he is “still following a specific training program in order to get back to fitness,” per Les Parisiens.
Luckily for Emery, Yuri Berchiche served his domestic suspension against Strasbourg in midweek and will be able to fill in for Kurzawa.
The former Sevilla boss played Dani Alves at left back in Strasbourg and he will now have to choose between the Brazilian and Thomas Meunier after the former scored one and the latter set up two at Stade de la Meinau.
Lucas Moura is back out of the squad after a brief reprisal for the trip to Strasbourg, as is youth academy graduate Alec Georgen.
There is no room for third goalkeeper Remy Descamps with both Alphonse Areola and Kevin Trapp fit and Hatem Ben Arfa 100 per cent omissions record remains intact after he was told multiple times to look for a new club.
Jonathan Johnson covers PSG and the French national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @Jon_LeGossip.