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PARIS — Paris Saint-Germain coach Thomas Tuchel says he plans to deploy Neymar in his preferred wide role this season — starting with the French champions’ Ligue 1 season opener at home to Caen on Sunday — because the Brazil international “is a leader when he is happy.”

The Brazil international made a late substitute appearance in the 4-0 Trophee des Champions win over Monaco in Shenzhen, China, last weekend in a more central role and is expected to be fit enough to start at Parc des Princes in Tuchel’s Ligue 1 debut.

“Neymar is my key player,” Tuchel said at a prematch news conference at Camp des Loges on Saturday. “One of the world’s best. He is also an artist.

“For the creative players, sometimes it is better that they are not under pressure. There are many ways to be a leader. Neymar is a leader when he is happy — being happy means being creative and feeling inspired. He is a leader but there are other senior figures who add structure to the team.

“No, we will not see Neymar playing the way he did against Monaco in the Trophee des Champions — I gave him a free role in the middle because it was less intense than out wide with such little preparation.”

Tuchel will not be the only debutant against Caen this weekend, with legendary goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon also ready to make his Ligue 1 bow in the capital.

“Gianluigi is a top professional,” the former Borussia Dortmund and Mainz boss said. “He is humble, polite and very easy to manage — he is an example to the entire team.

“Having three goalkeepers [Buffon, Alphonse Areola and Kevin Trapp] makes it hard for me. They all have enough talent and personality to start. I will speak with them before the match and decide.”

Kylian Mbappe has also been back in training this week, so could feature against Caen, and midfielder Christopher Nkunku admitted that his teammate’s World Cup-winning insight has been particularly enlightening.

“Kylian and Neymar are both great players,” the youth academy graduate said. “They are known all over the world.

“The World Cup winners have shared and are still sharing their experiences with the rest of us in the squad — it is interesting.”

Tuchel confirmed some early squad news that Marco Verratti and Layvin Kurzawa will both miss Caen through injury, while he was unsure whether Mbappe and Presnel Kimpembe and would start after no preseason preparation.

“Marco and Layvin are injured,” Tuchel said. “They cannot train, so they will not play against Caen.

“Marco is still suffering a bit [post-operation], so he has his ups and downs. After an operation, you must be careful — we will take our time.

“For the players who returned later [Mbappe, Kimpembe and Areola], we will decide after training or the morning of the match — it is a complicated situation and I do not want to take risks.”

Tuchel, who also declared himself “keen to sample the Parc des Princes atmosphere” after hearing “good things” about the supporters, declared himself unable to comment on the current transfer window because “it is not the moment” as PSG continue to push for Bayern Munich defender Jerome Boateng.


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Steve Nicol says Thomas Tuchel's attitude at PSG is exactly what a player should want in their manager. PSG boss Thomas Tuchel reveals he's spoken to Edinson Cavani, who quashed talk that he's set to leave the French capital. In a promotional video for Gillette, Brazil star Neymar...