With heavy spending comes heavy expectation. Unai Emery, Paris Saint-Germain’s manager, has admitted on the eve of the Champions League getting under way that he feels a “responsibility” to deliver success after a summer transfer splurge.
Neymar and Kylian Mbappé have joined Dani Alves in Paris, with finance as delivered from Qatar placing the club among Europe’s elite. All three are expected to play at Celtic on Tuesday evening.
“It’s true that it’s the most important competition,” Emery said. “So I have a lot of responsibility, with so many good players at my disposal.
“We go into the game with a lot of confidence. We have worked hard and we will have to work hard here. I feel that we look forward to good start. I know, obviously, that the Champions League is a big objective for the club. But I know it’s going to be difficult against Celtic.”
Thiago Silva, PSG’s captain and an international team-mate of Neymar, emphasised the confidence that exists within Emery’s squad. Silva insisted events of last season – PSG lost 6-1 to Barcelona in the reversal of a 4-0 first leg win at the last 16 stage – are “already forgotten”.
“I don’t know if we are the [Champions League] favourites,” the defender said. “We should get close this year. There are a lot of players with a lot of quality across the Champions League. But we have a lot of talent in our team. We’ve prepared hard for the Champions League and we are very motivated.
“We know that Celtic are a very good team. We know how hard they are to beat at home. We expect a match with a lot of intensity. They will be very strong in closing us down, trying to stop us from playing. We analysed them this morning.
“But with the players we’ve got, we are aiming to go far. The atmosphere in the team is magnificent. We will try to handle the pressure as well as we can. If we stick together, we can handle the pressure of trying to go far in the Champions League.”
Silva smiled when asked whether training had become significantly more difficult for defenders given the arrival of Mbappé and Neymar.
“The recruitment was very good,” he said. “They are both experienced and they are both very motivated to improve this team. We have confidence in them as team-mates. Neymar has so much experience in the Champions League. He can maybe make the difference. The three players we have signed are incredible.
“It’s just normal that training is hard. When you’ve got these guys in there with this technique and ability on the ball, it’s an impossible task to stop them every time. They have their own individual quality. Neymar’s speed is almost unstoppable. Marking him in training is improving me.
“Both Neymar and Kylian Mbappé are very intelligent footballers, as is Dani Alves. It’s very easy for them. I spoke with Neymar a lot before he signed, about the positives and negatives of the club. He has settled very quickly. As I expected him to.”
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010