PARIS — Paris Saint-Germain right-back Dani Alves believes that teammate Neymar has “become a man” during their time at the club.
The Brazil international, who missed out on World Cup heartache alongside his compatriot in Russia, is currently working his way back to fitness after surgery on a knee injury suffered with the French champions at the end of last season.
Speaking at the launch of Jordan Brand x PSG’s collaboration at Parc des Princes on Thursday, Alves noted the change in Neymar’s behaviour and attitude, particularly over the summer.
“Neymar and I have spoken plenty,” the 35-year-old told Globo Esporte. “I think that he is more aware and experienced now. The small cracks have created a maturity and that will change his behaviour.
“You stop being a child in order to become a man. When you start to be a man, your decisions and attitudes become more thoughtful.
“I always say that when somebody speaks badly, they do not deserve to be heard. When two people are speaking, that is fine, but if many people are speaking, something is wrong, so it is time to reinvent ourselves.
“Some things happen in life to create maturity, to raise awareness that improvement is needed as a professional. When things are not perfect — that is when you must take a step forward.”
Meanwhile, retired goalkeeper Sebastien Frey questioned PSG’s need for goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon with Alphonse Areola already on the books.
Frey, 38, spent most of his career in Italy with Inter Milan, Parma, Fiorentina and Genoa and stated his belief that Italian legend Buffon should have joined him in retirement this summer.
“I do not understand two things about Gianluigi signing for PSG,” the Frenchman told Gazzetta dello Sport. “Firstly, where is the interest in Gigi when Alphonse is already there? I have always loved Gigi — he wrote history, but I would have retired at the end of last season in his position.
“Secondly, if Gigi is there to add experience and character to the dressing room, he is extremely expensive! PSG have three goalkeepers [now two, with Kevin Trapp on loan at Eintracht Frankfurt] who cost €18 million and the guy who starts earns the least out of all of them!”
PSG coach Thomas Tuchel believes that he was misquoted when he spoke with RMC Sport about Areola and Buffon earlier this week and the German tactician has now backtracked on his stance that the France international is his No. 1 ahead of the former Azzurri star.
“I did not say that Alphonse is going to be No. 1,” said Tuchel in Thursday’s news conference ahead of their clash with Saint-Etienne. “I told Alphonse before Gianluigi arrived that he was in pole position to be No. 1. Gigi has arrived, so that has changed everything — the situation is completely different now.
“Gigi is a legend, so we must be intelligent with both and find a solution. Alphonse will be a top goalkeeper for PSG — because of Gigi and not despite him. Perhaps we should get used to the fact that there is no set No. 1.
“Anyway, it is important to note that I did not say that Alphonse is No. 1. However, Alphonse will play against Saint-Etienne and Liverpool [Buffon is suspended].”
Tuchel then moved on to summer signing Juan Bernat and praised the Spain international for his exploits under Pep Guardiola with Bayern Munich.
“Juan performed to a very high level under Pep at Bayern,” the former Borussia Dortmund and Mainz 05 coach said. “Technically, he is good, but we need to be patient as he has not played for quite a while.”
Bernat himself feels that he is now over his injury problems and is ready to compensate for the probable loss of Layvin Kurzawa until the end of 2018 after back surgery.
“I am 100 percent ready to go, despite the injury that kept me out last season,” said the 25-year-old to journalists at Camp des Loges. “I came to develop as a football player.
“Sometimes, it is hard to settle in. The coach wanted me, though, which should help — his style of play suits me.”
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