France legend Lilian Thuram believes Paris Saint-Germain stand a better chance of winning the Champions League than ever, and while he says Neymar will be an asset, he is not the primary reason for optimism at Parc des Princes.
Thomas Tuchel’s side have failed to make it past the last 16 in each of the previous three editions of the competition, suffering humiliating exits at the hands of Barcelona and Manchester United when holding a strong advantage after the first leg.
Thuram believes that the current vintage, having been reinforced by Idrissa Gueye in the midfield, is capable of being rather more robust as they showed with a 3-0 win over Real Madrid in their opening match of the competition this year.
“I’ve got the impression that this year, they are better armed than ever to win the Champions League,” he told RMC. “But you know that it’s always very, very complicated.
“I have the feeling that there’s greater solidity in the squad. And you win with solidity.”
The great soap opera of the summer transfer window, meanwhile, was Neymar’s on-off move back to Spain, where both Barcelona and Real Madrid held a serious interest in the Brazil international forward.
The 27-year-old returned late for pre-season training and was not considered for selection until the transfer window closed at the beginning of September, but he has since returned to show his worth to the club, scoring three winning goals in three 1-0 victories in the four matches he has featured in this season.
“He’s one of the greatest players in the world currently. I think for PSG and Ligue 1, it’s a very good thing that he’s stayed. He’s a very, very great player,” Thuram said before considering the frosty welcome the South American received from the PSG fans on his return to action.
“He’s one of those footballers who deeply loves the game. He has the strength to respond on the pitch and in the end he will help PSG perform better.”
Since moving to PSG from Barcelona in 2017 for €222 million (£200m/$268m), Neymar has played only one Champions League knockout match for the club – a record that all stakeholders in the Parisian side will wish to see improve dramatically come the spring.
PSG face Galatasaray away from home on Tuesday.