PARIS, France, Feb 2 – Neymar insists his Paris Saint-Germain career is just getting started as the runaway French league leaders prepare for a crucial stretch of matches that will likely define their season.
PSG go to struggling Lille on Saturday, exactly six months on from Neymar’s world-record transfer from Barcelona, with the Brazilian superstar bidding to add to his overall haul of 26 goals from 24 matches.
“I wasn’t expecting this at the beginning, these statistics with Paris Saint-Germain. But I’m here to help the team and my teammates and to try and do better each day, in each match, and that’s the most important thing,” Neymar told PSG TV.
“It’s not my objective to be the team’s main player, the lad who gets the most assists or scores the most goals. I just want to play my own football, that’s how it is, I want to make things happen.”
Neymar followed up a four-goal performance in an 8-0 win over Dijon with a brace in last weekend’s 4-0 rout of Montpellier, and despite constant speculation about his future, he is adamant there is much more to come in Paris.
“It’s just the beginning,” said the 25-year-old, who scored the club’s 2000th goal at the Parc des Princes against Montpellier.
“Making history with this club is an important thing for a player. That’s why I came here. To make history and help PSG progress.”
After Saturday’s trip north, PSG visit second-tier Sochaux in the French Cup and then host Toulouse in Ligue 1 before all eyes turn to the first leg of their Champions League last-16 clash with holders Real Madrid in Spain on February 14.
Lille, the French champions in 2011, are just one place above the bottom three after a tumultuous first half of the campaign that resulted in an acrimonious divorce between the club and mercurial Argentine coach Marcelo Bielsa.
– The race for second –
While PSG continue their inexorable march towards a fifth title in six years, the battle for second place intensifies this weekend as Lyon host defending champions Monaco on Sunday.
It will be the second meeting in 10 days after Lyon dumped Monaco out in the last of 32 of the French Cup following a 3-2 victory at the Stade Louis II.
But after six wins in seven league outings, Lyon slumped to a 3-1 defeat last time out on what was Gustavo Poyet’s debut as Bordeaux coach having replaced the sacked Jocelyn Gourvennec.
Monaco sealed a return to the French League Cup final on Wednesday as Radamel Falcao struck twice in a 2-0 defeat of Montpellier to set up a rematch against last year’s winners PSG.
“He (Falcao) hadn’t scored in three games but everyone knows he’s a big player and all players know there are times when they don’t score,” said Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim.
“Now we have time to think about the final, we will prepare better for the final than last season,” he added, after seeing his side thrashed 4-1 by PSG a year ago.
Marseille, who are level on 48 points with Lyon after Sunday’s 2-2 home draw with Monaco, will look for a fifth league win in six when they host bottom-of-the-table Metz on Friday.
Fixtures (all times 10pm unless stated)
Marseille v Metz (10:45pm)
Lille v Paris Saint-Germain (7pm), Amiens v Saint-Etienne, Montpellier v Angers, Nice v Toulouse, Strasbourg v Bordeaux
Rennes v Guingamp (5pm), Caen v Nantes (7pm), Monaco v Lyon (11pm)
Troyes v Dijon – postponed to February 20 due to floods