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PSG look for Mbappe, Messi and Neymar to click

Berlin, Aug 5 (IANS) Christophe Galtier has told Paris Saint-Germain’s superstars that a team that defends together can win big together.

New head coach Galtier believes squad spirit is contagious, and that such togetherness holds the key to getting the best out of Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Lionel Messi this season, reports DPA.

The man now at the helm at Parc des Princes watched the PSG trio from afar last term, while bossing Nice. They spluttered at times as a combination when they were widely expected to take French and European football by storm.

Rarely have such a starry trio belonged to the same club at the same time, and they will be expected to better last season’s performance as PSG again go after their holy grail: Champions League glory.

In Ligue 1 last season, Mbappe rattled in 28 goals in 35 games, but Neymar again missed chunks of the campaign and finished with 13 goals in 22 outings in the competition, while former Barcelona captain Messi hit the back of the net just six times in 26 league appearances.

Mbappe was absent through suspension for the 4-0 Trophee des Champions thrashing of Nantes last weekend. Messi opened the scoring, Neymar added a double, and Sergio Ramos completed the rout as Galtier, who took over from the sacked Mauricio Pochettino in July, picked up early silverware.

When the Parisians head to Clermont for their league opener on Saturday, Mbappe will be available once more, and that means in all likelihood the front three will be reunited.

“It’s a pleasure to have Kylian Mbappe back for the first league game,” said Galtier. “He’s been involved in our pre-season.”

Galtier was asked directly about what the key would be to getting the best out of the front three, but the coach took a tangential path to offering his view, and in doing so indicated he perhaps expects extra effort from Mbappe, Messi and Neymar when it comes to contributing all over the pitch.

“In terms of our defensive set-up we have a collective desire and responsibility. Also, as individuals. There can be periods in matches where it is very tight and the team hasn’t yet got on top of the opposition in terms of the scoreline or finding spaces,” Galtier said.

“We want to be very focused on not letting the opposition affect our style of play. We have a priority as a team and as individuals.

“When you have team-mates making a big effort, of course, that is contagious, and it means the players around them want to make the same effort. So we need to make sure this is what happens.”

Galtier said he and PSG would benefit from the experience of former Real Madrid captain Ramos, who spent the majority of his first season with the club on the sidelines due to injury woes.

“It is always good to have players like him, and they can bring their experience,” said Galtier. “Professionalism. That is what they bring to their team-mates, and to me they also have experiences that I haven’t had, so I can learn from that, and they might also have answers to questions that I am asking myself.”

This will be PSG’s 50th season in Ligue 1, and it brings them an opportunity to land an 11th league title, which would take them ahead of Saint-Etienne to become the outright most successful team in the competition’s history. Anything less would be considered a failure.

Meanwhile, Paris Saint-Germain have completed the signing of midfielder from Renato Sanches from Ligue 1 rivals Lille for an undisclosed fee. The midfielder has been reunited with new PSG coach Christophe Galtier, signing a five-year contract with the French champions.

Sanches had been linked with Serie A champions Milan, but PSG emerged as the favourites to land the 24-year-old. The Portugal international won the 2020-21 Ligue 1 title playing under Galtier at Lille, where he arrived from Bayern Munich in 2019.

–IANS

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