PSG's Neymar: 'I didn't expect this'
By I. Holyman
Neymar Jr has admitted even he is surprised by how well his Paris Saint-Germain career has started as the league leaders' superstar Brazilian prepares to face Lille on Saturday.
LOSC Lille - Paris Saint-Germain
His world record €222 million move to the Parc des Princes raised expectations of what he could do in France sky-high, and the former Barcelona man has more than lived up to his billing.
A flood of 26 goals have come in just 24 competitive outings for his new club, including 17 in 16 Ligue 1 Conforama starts, stats which are embellished still more by 11 assists.
"No, 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. "I want to do more, score more goals and play better. I hope it all keeps going well."
With his new club 11 points clear at the top of the league, having qualified for the Coupe de la Ligue final for the fifth successive year in midweek, and having lost just one of their last 12 competitive outings and winning all the rest, things could hardly be better.
WATCH: Neymar destroys Dijon
His prolific understanding with strike partners Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappé has also been built suprisingly and successfully quickly.
The so-called 'MCN' trio have contributed a massive 47 of PSG's 72 league strikes this season, but Neymar was quick to point out the work of their team-mates that has enabled them to grab the goals and the headlines.
"It comes from the players' qualities, the qualities of each athlete out on the pitch. Our team doesn't just depend on its three attackers. You need to get the ball to the forwards if you're going to get goals. But if you didn't have midfielders and defenders, it would be impossible!" said the Brazil international, who believes the potent trident can become even sharper.
'On the right track'
"It's true that things developed quite quickly, but we still need time to get to know each other and find our feet together. But we're on the right track."
Lille are the next side in the firing line, and with them hovering just a point above the bottom three, the northerners would surely have wished for anyone but the rampant league leaders to be heading to the Stade Pierre Mauroy.
PSG are unbeaten on their last six competitive trips to face Lille, winning the last three, though only by a narrow 1-0 scoreline each time.
WATCH: Lille stun Strasbourg at the death
The hosts' tails are up after their dramatic 2-1 defeat of RC Strasbourg Alsace last time out, courtesy of Edgar Ié's added-time strike, and LOSC boss Christophe Galtier admitted there is a mix of fear and fearlessness within his ranks.
"We'll have to really apply ourselves, show a lot of desire and determination. We're like all the other teams who may fear such an encounter. But there are three points at stake and there's everything to win," explained Galtier, whose squad handled the pressure built by three successive defeats ahead of the Strasbourg game.
"There was a good mentality which we need to develop. I liked the players' attitudes before the game, too. They were focused and not under pressure. The result was of course important, but not at the expense of how we approached the game. If you only focus on the result it can create tension."
LOSC: Maignan; Dabila, Ié, J.Alonso, Ballo-Touré; El-Ghazi, Amadou (cap), T.Maia, Pépé; T.Mendes; Ponce
PSG: Areola; Daniel Alves, Thiago Silva (cap), Kimpembe, Kurzawa; Verratti, Lo Celso, Pastore; Di Maria, Cavani, Neymar