Pochettino Leaps To Neymar’s Defense After Brazilian Hints At Early Retirement
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Paris Saint-Germain manager Mauricio Pochettino is confident that Neymar will play for many more years after the Brazil forward this week said that the next World Cup could be his last.
Neymar, 29, said Qatar 2022 could be his final appearance at the tournament because he was not sure if had the "strength of mind to deal with football anymore.”
Speaking ahead of PSG's Ligue 1 game against Angers on Friday, Pochettino said that Neymar's comments were a result of a career spent in the limelight.
"He is a sincere man, he expresses his feelings quickly, but his mental strength, in a life that has been under the spotlight for a long time, is great. He has suffered a lot pressure since he was little," said the Argentine. "Sometimes things get taken out of context. Neymar loves football and I'm sure he will play for more years. I have no doubts."
Pochettino confirmed that center back Sergio Ramos was still unavailable due to injury and will go undergo "individualized training" for another 10 days as he looks to play his first game for the club after arriving from Real Madrid.
"I have no doubt that Ramos will be able to find his best level. Sergio's situation is not pleasant because he has not had options to train with his teammates or to play for a long time. He is suffering, but he is strong and everyone at the club is helping him," he said.
Left back Juan Bernat, who has been out with a knee problem, is likely to feature against Angers, while Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas will miss out after coming off injured in a World Cup qualifier against the U.S. on Wednesday. PSG, who have a six-point lead at the top of the Ligue 1 table after nine games, were handed their first league defeat of the season by Rennes before the international break.
Pochettino added that they must be wary of the counter-attacking threat posed by Angers and be more clinical in front of goal.
"(Teams) defend with a deep line and try to hit us on the counter," he said. "Each game is different and we hope to avoid the situations against Rennes and keep creating chances."
(Reporting by Dhruv Munjal in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis)