Paris Saint-Germain’s star-studded attack brushed off the absence of Neymar as Edinson Cavani, Kylian Mbappe and substitute Angel Di Maria all got on the scoresheet in a comfortable 3-0 home win over Nimes in their Ligue 1 opener on Sunday.
The champions left the 27-year-old Brazil forward out of their squad as he continues to be linked with a move away from the French capital, and PSG fans on the terraces waved banners containing messages to signal their displeasure with him.
Derogatory chants in Spanish rang out amid rumours of a Barcelona return, or a Real Madrid switch, and banners were flown that took direct aim at the wantaway Brazilian.
Neymar did not play after Thomas Tuchel and sporting director Leonardo both publicly admitted that a mixture of fitness problems and the ongoing question over his future dictated that he could not feature.
Following the match, Tuchel addressed the reaction of some fans to the Neymar situation.
“The situation was a bit difficult, I do not know what to say,” said Tuchel. “I saw on my colleague’s phone as I did not hear the chanting during the match. Yes, I can understand, but I also cannot at the same time. It is like that, emotions are raw and still there. However, he is still our player — my player.
“I will always protect my players. He is in the dressing room, he is there and he is my player — I will look after him. I can understand that everyone does not like what he said or did, OK. We must find a level of emotion to express.”
Tuchel added that it would be better to have both Mbappe and Neymar in the team with the former echoing his manager’s comments following the match.
“Lets not lie — we will see what happens with Neymar,” Mbappe said. “This team is not the same without him. We will keep going and try to give our best for ourselves and the fans too.”
Information from Reuters was used in this story.