Neymar returns to Brazil for extended leave from PSG

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Paris Saint-Germain manager Thomas Tuchel confirmed on Friday Pthat Neymar has returned to his native Brazil to “rest and relax” and will not be in the squad for PSG’s match against Nantes on Saturday, the team’s final game before a short holiday break.

Tuchel said that Neymar would be shut down for two weeks and confirmed that he played injured in the club’s final Champions League group stage match against Red Star Belgrade 10 days ago. The French club needed a win to advance to the knockout stage, eventually earning a 4-1 victory with Neymar scoring and assisting a goal.

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“Neymar has travelled to Brazil with my permission,” Tuchel said in his pre-match press conference prior to the game against Nantes. “He was injured, and we risked him against Red Star in Belgrade. He wants to play each match, but we must be smart right now and take no unnecessary chances with his injury. He needs to rest and relax for two weeks.”

PSG has been incredibly careful to not overuse the Brazilian this year, a luxury which they can afford given the club’s absolutely demolition of Ligue 1. Neymar was rested for Ligue 1 matches against St. Etienne in September and Amiens in October. He missed a game against Toulouse in late November with an adductor injury, and then was held out of PSG’s draw with Strasbourg earlier this month.

However, he was needed against Red Star due to the important nature of the fixture. PSG, Liverpool, and Napoli were all vying for two advancement positions in Group C on the final day  of the group stage, and a win would ensure PSG’s place in the knockout round, while a draw would put them at peril and a loss would likely see them out.

The French giants won their first 14 league matches of the season, dropping their first points of the year in back-to-back draws against Bordeaux and Strasbourg in their most recent league games. Still, they hold a 10-point lead over LOSC at the top of the Ligue 1 table and are 13 points above third-placed Lyon.

PSG takes on Nantes on Saturday and does not have another fixture until a pair of domestic cup matches on January 6 and 8. They do not have another Ligue 1 game until January 12 when they visit Amiens. PSG drew Manchester United in the Champions League round of 16, with the first leg scheduled for February 12.