Kylian Mbappe scored a hat-trick and Neymar made his return from a three-month injury lay-off as Paris Saint-Germain began their Ligue 1 title celebrations with a 3-1 win over visitors Monaco on Sunday.

PSG were already confirmed as champions earlier in the day after second-placed Lille could only draw 0-0 with Toulouse, and Thomas Tuchel's men subsequently played with freedom in an emphatic triumph inspired by Mbappe against his old club.

The lethal Mbappe took only 15 minutes to make his mark at the end of a stunning counter-attack and he doubled his tally just before half-time, rounding off another well-worked move.

Neymar – fit again after breaking his foot in January – came on at the interval to a huge cheer, before Mbappe completed his treble in the 55th minute to become the youngest player to score 30 goals in France's top division.

Aleksandr Golovin's late strike proved to be nothing more than a consolation for a Monaco side who still face the threat of relegation.

Monaco's chances took an early blow when they lost goalkeeper Danijel Subasic to an apparent thigh strain, and PSG had the breakthrough soon after – Mbappe collecting Moussa Diaby's pass and finishing into the top-left corner to round off a devastating break.

The former Monaco talisman missed a great chance in the 33rd minute, but he made amends a few moments later, playing a one-two with Dani Alves and neatly finding the bottom-right corner from just inside the area.

PSG introduced Neymar for Layvin Kurzawa at half-time, but still Mbappe led the way, hitting the post after bursting past Kamil Glik in the 52nd minute.

He then grabbed his third, tapping in from close range after Alves raced on to Marco Verratti's pass and squared across the face of goal.

PSG lost Verratti to an injury towards the end and Golovin pulled one back with a tidy finish just inside the box, but the hosts' lead was unassailable and they cruised to victory.

 

 

What does it mean? PSG unshackled after confirmation as champions

PSG's form suggested they may have been easing up as they failed to wrap up the title against Strasbourg, Lille and Nantes, losing to the latter two.

But they did not even have to kick a ball on Sunday to finally clinch a second successive Ligue 1 title, appearing more fluid and cohesive than they have in recent weeks.

Monaco, meanwhile, sit four points above the bottom three.

Mbappe the star

There can be little doubt who inspired PSG on Sunday. Mbappe looked in the mood right from the start and his two first-half goals were excellent. The hat-trick clincher was a rather more straightforward finish, but it allowed him to secure a deserved three-goal haul.

Badiashile's bad day

Young centre-back Benoit Badiashile got a taste of what it takes to face the very best at the Parc des Princes. The 18-year-old's positioning was poor in several key moments, such as the third goal, while he made no tackles and just a single interception.

What's next?

There is another title on the line for PSG next Saturday as they face Rennes – who are also Monaco's upcoming opposition a week on Wednesday – in the Coupe de France final, before returning to Ligue 1 action the following Tuesday at Montpellier.

Neymar made his return from a three-month lay-off with a broken foot during Paris Saint-Germain's Ligue 1 match at home to Monaco on Sunday.

The Brazil star had not played a competitive game since suffering a metatarsal injury in a Coupe de France win over Strasbourg on January 23.

At the time there were doubts whether Neymar would appear again this season, but he returned to training in early April, suggesting he could feature in the run-in.

Thomas Tuchel named the forward on the bench for the visit of Monaco – with PSG confirmed as champions earlier in the day following Lille's 0-0 draw at Toulouse.

And he made his way on to the pitch for the second half with PSG already 2-0 up thanks to Kylian Mbappe's brace, replacing Layvin Kurzawa at half-time.

Mbappe went on to complete his hat-trick soon after his team-mate's introduction. 

Neymar is back in the Paris Saint-Germain squad for Sunday's Ligue 1 clash with Monaco at Parc des Princes.

The Brazil star has not played a competitive match since suffering a metatarsal injury in a Coupe de France win over Strasbourg on January 23.

Head coach Thomas Tuchel had suggested Neymar could make his return against Monaco, and he has indeed been included on the bench for the match, alongside Edinson Cavani, who has not played a league game since February due to a muscle problem.

PSG were confirmed as champions before their meeting with Monaco, as second-place Lille failed to win at Toulouse earlier in the day.

Paris Saint-Germain winning the Ligue 1 title again was hardly a surprise given their riches but Kylian Mbappe's incredible performances will be food for thought given the constant transfer speculation surrounding Neymar.

Real Madrid continue to be linked with a sensational move for the Brazil forward, who became the most expensive player in football history when he joined PSG from Barca in a deal worth €222million.

PSG have regularly hit out at suggestions Neymar could be sold, denying the club needs to raise funds in order to ensure Financial Fair Play rules are not broken due to their continued lavish spending.

But with Neymar missing a chunk of this season due to another foot injury - and Edinson Cavani also being sidelined at the same time - Mbappe has shown there could be another route forward.

Mbappe has been hailed as the new Pele by the great man himself and the 20-year-old's superb form in a season that followed him winning the World Cup with France shows the comparison may not be overly outlandish.

With 27 goals in Ligue 1 in 2018-19, Mbappe is the top scorer in the French top flight by a huge margin, while he has also added four in the Champions League and two more in the Coupe de France.

One of those European strikes came away to Manchester United in the opening leg of a last-16 tie in February that offered Thomas Tuchel a possible inkling into the future of PSG's front line.

Mbappe was a constant menace, scoring the second in a 2-0 win at Old Trafford with a speedy run and smart finish that gave David de Gea no chance.

And with Neymar and Cavani both out it was former United winger Angel Di Maria who proved the main creative threat for the visitors on that day, assisting Presnel Kimpembe's opener and freeing Mbappe for the second.

Di Maria has often been unfairly regarded as the least heralded member of PSG's fantastic four forwards but the reality is this season he has usually been more effective than Neymar, regardless of the Brazilian's injury issues.

PSG's excellent display at United was built on tactical diligence and their wide attackers working hard to track runners, a job Neymar seems to deem below him, and although Tuchel has tried to incorporate the former Barca man as a number 10 it is an uncomfortable fit against elite opposition.

The solution therefore appears to be obvious: cash in on Neymar, give Di Maria more responsibility and allow Mbappe to become the jewel in the PSG crown.

Mbappe has proven he is ready to be the key man for his club, rather than PSG's record scorer Cavani or Neymar, netting in seven consecutive Ligue 1 games to keep Tuchel's men well clear of Lille atop the table.

It is testament to just how good Mbappe is that Neymar has not really been missed in recent weeks, although whether he could have prevented PSG's Champions League second-leg crash against United is impossible to tell.

Madrid and Bayern Munich are among the giants expected to spend heavily on squad reinforcements ahead of 2019-20 and PSG will want to do likewise to keep pace with Europe's elite.

But FFP ensures that even if there is effectively a bottomless pit of Qatar Sports Investments cash theoretically available to Tuchel, he cannot spend it all without risking the wrath of UEFA's bean-counters.

If funds need to be raised, Neymar is the most obvious player to make way, with the 27-year-old as valuable now as he ever will be, while Mbappe will continue to appreciate in value assuming his development remains on track.

Tuchel has been forced to use defenders including Marquinhos and Dani Alves in midfield this season, but Neymar's sale could enable him to build a world-class platform on which Mbappe can thrive.

Neymar could be in line to make his Paris Saint-Germain return against Monaco on Sunday, says head coach Thomas Tuchel.

The Brazil superstar has not played competitively since damaging a metatarsal in a Coupe de France win over Strasbourg on January 23.

Neymar, who has 13 goals in as many Ligue 1 outings this term, returned to training earlier this month but has not yet been fit enough to feature.

However, Tuchel says Neymar is closing on a comeback, which may come versus Monaco as PSG attempt to finally wrap up the title after missed opportunities against Strasbourg, Lille and Nantes.

"We have to wait, there are two training sessions left. Maybe it will be Sunday, I hope," Tuchel told a pre-match news conference.

"Neymar's exams are good. He is impatient. He is confident. He is not afraid, he is striking the ball and feels good."

Thomas Meunier and captain Thiago Silva remain absent, while Tuchel said late decisions will be taken on a host of other first-team stars, including Edinson Cavani and Angel Di Maria.

"For [Julian] Draxler, Marquinhos, Cavani and Di Maria, we have to wait," he added.

"I'm not sure they are in the group. It is possible, but the opposite is possible too."

Paris Saint-Germain head coach Thomas Tuchel has rejected suggestions that the club are in crisis but concedes that they are experiencing a "difficult phase".

The runaway Ligue 1 leaders have now missed two opportunities to wrap up the title after a 2-2 draw at home to Strasbourg on April 7 was followed by a crushing 5-1 defeat to second-place Lille on Sunday.

PSG have another chance to wrap up a second consecutive league title when they travel to Nantes on Wednesday and Tuchel is keen to play down his side's blip in form.

"We have to accept this kind of period in a season," he told a media conference. "In the middle there are a lot of positives but there are also complicated, hard weeks.

"It's not a crisis but a difficult phase. I will take the same crisis next season if it comes with a 17-point lead! We have to stay calm and together.

"It is our goal to be champions very quickly. We had the opportunity to become champions against Strasbourg and Lille, but we couldn't seize it. There are always obstacles to overcome."

PSG will be without the injured Thomas Meunier, Edinson Cavani, Neymar, Marquinhos, Thiago Silva and Angel Di Maria for the visit to 15th-place Nantes, while Juan Bernat and Marco Verratti are suspended.

Tuchel denied that he has any issues with the way players' injuries are being handled by the club's medical staff but did say the workload was becoming difficult for those who can play.

After listing the players that will be missing, Tuchel said: "That is not our squad for the quarter-finals for the Champions League, they are our wounded.

"I am not angry. We work hard together. The doctors, physiotherapists and staff are all together. We have to think about each injury individually. I have confidence in them.

"There are not enough players, that's the reality. If a lot of people are missing the ones remaining have more responsibilities. It's demanding. They're physically and mentally tired. They do not stop."

Brazil superstar Neymar is working his way back from a foot injury sustained in PSG's Coupe de France clash against Strasbourg on January 23, but no timescale has been put on when the world's most expensive footballer will return to full fitness.

Tuchel has confirmed that he is not suffering any lasting pain from the injury and is aiming to return soon.

"Neymar has no pain," he added. "He is very confident and wants to come back as soon as possible."

Ousmane Dembele is "much better" than former Barcelona star Neymar, according to president Josep Maria Bartomeu.

Neymar left Barca for Paris Saint-Germain in a world-record €222 million transfer in 2017 and Dembele arrived as his €105m replacement from Borussia Dortmund.

Dembele has scored 11 La Liga goals and 18 in all competitions since moving to Camp Nou and Bartomeu heaped praise on the 21-year-old France winger.

"It's not possible for Neymar to come to Barcelona as we have another sporting project with Dembele and [Philippe] Coutinho," Bartomeu told TVE ahead of Tuesday's Champions League quarter-final second leg against Manchester United.

"We are happy with what we have, as Dembele is better than Neymar and he is a good professional player.

"He is a young guy who arrived at a huge club and that's not easy, but he has adapted and he is much better than Neymar."

Philippe Coutinho has been linked with a move away having struggled to cement a spot in Barca's starting line-up since his €160m switch from Liverpool In January 2018.

United and Chelsea have emerged as possible destinations but Bartomeu said: "Coutinho is an excellent player and he has the coach's confidence.

"He has contract with us and he will remain at the team, unless they meet his release clause."

There are also doubts over the futures of Ivan Rakitic and Samuel Umtiti at the club, with the pair reportedly attracting interest from the likes of Inter, Arsenal and United respectively.

Bartomeu added: "[Rakitic] has a contract and we are very happy [with him]. I had a conversation with him in the summer and I told him that we could talk to improve his contract.

"We have not talked because of the calendar and because it's not easy due to the balance of wages, but we will talk with him. He's an indisputable player and he becomes better every year.

"[As for Umtiti] we renewed him before the World Cup; he has four years left on his contract and there is no Umtiti issue. Now he has to recover from his injury as we want to have him in the best form possible. Having Umtiti and [Clement] Lenglet on the left [side of central defence] is a guarantee and I would like him to continue."

Marco Verratti says he has no intention of leaving Paris Saint-Germain at the end of this season.

The 26-year-old joined from Pescara in 2012 and has enjoyed another fine campaign at the heart of the Ligue 1 champions' midfield.

His form has seen him linked with a big-money move to the Premier League or LaLiga but the Italy international insists he is happy in France and expects to be lining up for Thomas Tuchel's side next term.

"I'll be in Paris, yes, if nothing happens," he told Telefoot.

"If the club does not want to release me, I'll be in Paris next year."

While PSG can wrap up the Ligue 1 title against Lille on Sunday, their season is considered to be a disappointment by some after a dramatic Champions League exit at the hands of Manchester United in the last 16.

Despite winning the first leg 2-0 at Old Trafford, Tuchel's men slumped to a dramatic 3-1 defeat in the return fixture in Paris.

PSG were without the injured Neymar for both legs and Verratti says he and his team-mates were disappointed not to be able to advance in the competition for the Brazilian's benefit.

"He hoped we would go into the quarter-finals to help us then," he said. "We could not give him this gift. I hope he will come back soon to help us.  

"The fans are disappointed by the way we went out. We play this game 10 times, we win it nine times.

"We must not change much. We have a great coach and some of the best players in the world with Neymar and Kylian [Mbappe]."

Thomas Tuchel revealed himself as a fan of "good player" Nicolas Pepe after Lille coach Christophe Galtier highlighted the forward as a good fit for Paris Saint-Germain.

The Ivory Coast international has scored 18 Ligue 1 goals for Lille this season to reportedly catch Bayern Munich's attention.

He netted against PSG in a 2-1 defeat in November and could be a key figure when the teams meet again in a top-of-the-table clash on Sunday.

Second-placed Lille must win to further delay the reigning champions' title party and, speaking to Le Parisien ahead of the encounter, Lille boss Galtier admitted 23-year-old Pepe would be "more than useful" on the other side.

Tuchel joked he would like that to happen as soon as this weekend.

"Yes, he can play for us tomorrow," the German laughed in his media conference on Saturday. "He can play with us for 70 minutes and then [Angel] Di Maria can come on!

"Pepe has a lot of quality with his speed and strength. He's determined around goal and always dangerous.

"I don't know his character and personality, but he's a good player."

PSG will again be without Neymar and Edinson Cavani for the trip to Stade Pierre-Mauroy as the star attackers are afforded more time to find full fitness.

Di Maria, Thilo Kehrer and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, who produced a comical miss in last weekend's draw against Strasbourg, will all be assessed closer to kick-off.

Julian Draxler believes Paris Saint-Germain team-mates Neymar and Kylian Mbappe will stay at the club amid speculation over their futures.

Star PSG pair Neymar and Mbappe have both been linked with moves to LaLiga giants Real Madrid at the end of the season.

Neymar only swapped Barcelona for PSG in a world-record €222million transfer in 2017 but a return to LaLiga via Madrid has been mooted, while Mbappe has reportedly emerged as a target for Zinedine Zidane.

PSG winger Draxler, however, feels Neymar and Mbappe have unfinished business with the Ligue 1 champions.

"I am not the club's sports director, but if you ask me, I think they will stay," Draxler told Canal+ Sport.

"They're work is not done here and that is why I think they will stay."

On his own future, German star Draxler said he is happy playing for PSG in the French capital.

Draxler arrived from Bundesliga side Wolfsburg in 2016 and this season, the Germany international has scored three goals in 23 Ligue 1 appearances.

The 25-year-old has scored five goals in all competitions and he added: "I don't know if the club want to keep me, but I am open to that. If the club come to me and tell me 'Let's talk about a renewal', why not?

"I am very happy here, not because of the money, I like my teammates, and I like living in Paris as well."

Neymar Sr has told Paris Saint-Germain fans to "sleep easy" over his son's future.

Brazil superstar Neymar became the most expensive player in football history when PSG paid Barcelona €222million for his services in August 2017.

Despite impressing on the field in Ligue 1, both his seasons at the Parc des Princes have been badly hindered by metatarsal injuries, with the 27-year-old forced to watch damaging Champions League exits at the hands of Real Madrid and Manchester United from the sidelines.

A big-money return to LaLiga with Madrid has been frequently mooted and Zinedine Zidane's second spell in charge at the Santiago Bernabeu is expected to mean a close season of lavish spending for the 13-time European champions.

However, with Neymar under contract until 2022, his father maintains another blockbusting move is not on the agenda at this stage.

"The contract is long with PSG," he told RMC Sport.

"We are only in the second season and it is not even over yet. We have a contract we are not even halfway through.

"These rumours of a departure will always exist, we cannot have a player like Neymar without clubs dreaming about him."

He added: "Neymar's desire to be at PSG was expressed two years ago, so the fans can sleep easy.

"Today Neymar does not want to leave PSG. he wants to continue to help the club win titles."

Neymar has scored 20 goals in 23 appearances across all competitions for PSG this season and is back in training, having not featured since his injury setback against Strasbourg in the Coupe de France in January.

Dani Alves feels Neymar is misunderstood at Paris Saint-Germain, believing the Brazilian star needs the same treatment as Barcelona captain Lionel Messi.

Neymar has won Ligue 1, Coupe de France, Coupe de la Ligue and Trophee des Champions since his world-record €222million transfer from Barca in 2017.

The 27-year-old forward scored 28 goals in all competitions during his first season, while he managed 20 before suffering a foot injury in January.

Neymar has been linked with a return to LaLiga via Barca's bitter rivals Real Madrid, and PSG team-mate Alves said the Brazil captain should be treated like five-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi.

"Here, everyone has not yet understood Neymar," Alves told RMC Sport. "When the ball is at the feet of this kind of player, there is like the scent of truffles.

"What's going on is like with Messi. Around Messi, there are other players. Here, we did not understand Neymar always gets and needs the ball and he gives you what you don't have. I give him the ball, and he does what he wants.

"Imagine I'm paying for an entrance to see a show. People need to understand, what do they want to see?

"If Messi loses the ball, we run to get it back and give it back to him [To let him] create things.

"People don't change, they get better, they take shots, they have to be smart, but they must not change the way they play, otherwise people will fall asleep. PSG has different players."

Experienced full-back Alves, meanwhile, said Ligue 1 holders PSG should heed his advice in their pursuit of Champions League glory.

PSG suffered a third consecutive last-16 exit in Europe, this time capitulating against Manchester United as they bowed out on away goals following a 3-1 second-leg loss in Paris, having won 2-0 at Old Trafford.

Alves, who has won 34 club titles since moving to Europe in 2002 – including three Champions League titles and six LaLiga crowns – said: "I know how to win.

"When I want to say something I would like to be followed. Not because I'm better than any other but because I've been there.

"When someone has been there maybe it's good to listen to them, to rely on their experience. Maybe it will work, maybe it won't. I would like that when I say something, one would listen more."

The 35-year-old added that head coach Thomas Tuchel is the "best transfer made by the Paris club" since his arrival.

Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar paid a bedside visit to Pele in hospital as the former Brazil star continues his recovery from a urinary tract infection.

Pele fell ill following a sponsor event in Paris last week, at which he appeared alongside Kylian Mbappe, but said he was feeling "much better" after being given a course of antibiotics.

The 78-year-old is unlikely to be discharged until the infection has fully cleared up and he had a famous visitor when Neymar stopped by on Monday.

The pair smiled as they posed for a photo that was uploaded to social media.

Neymar is himself undergoing rehabilitation from a metatarsal injury and recently returned to PSG training.

 

Thomas Tuchel wants to reinforce Paris Saint-Germain with up to four new signings as the German closes in on his first league title.

PSG will be crowned Ligue 1 champions for the sixth time in seven seasons on Sunday if they beat Strasbourg and Lille do not win at Reims.

Tuchel's men are also through to the Coupe de France final but were dumped out of the Champions League in sensational fashion by Manchester United in the last 16.

The club's desire to make an impression in Europe could prompt another off-season influx, with the failure to land Barcelona-bound Frenkie de Jong and Adrien Rabiot's expected departure highlighting midfield as a likely area for improvement.

"It's hard to say [how many players will arrive] because I don't know what's going to happen with the players here, if everyone wants to stay or some want to leave," Tuchel said.

"Today I will say that three of four more players would be good."

Marco Verratti, who joined from Pescara in 2012, has had a first-hand view of PSG's domestic dominance under Nasser Al-Khelaifi chairmanship and warned against making wholesale changes in the pursuit of continental success.

The 26-year-old Italy international thinks the heart-wrenching loss to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's United at home would have been different had the injured Neymar been available.

“I would not change much within the team to go far in the Champions League. We are close," Verratti said.

"This year was another bizarre match and we made mistakes, but we do not need to change too much.

"We were missing players, notably Neymar. That's like missing half of the team, as would be the case for Barcelona with Lionel Messi, or Juventus with Cristiano Ronaldo."

Gianluigi Buffon, who has not featured since the Champions League exit, will return to the starting XI against Strasbourg at Parc des Princes, but Edinson Cavani, Angel Di Maria, Marquinhos and Neymar all remain sidelined.

"On Sunday I hope to celebrate the title with our supporters," Verratti said.

"It's always a wonderful time to win the league. It's 38 matches, it's very long and difficult."

Neymar was back training with Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday as he stepped up his rehabilitation from a foot injury.

The Brazilian forward has not featured for the Ligue 1 champions since damaging a metatarsal in a Coupe de France win over Strasbourg on January 23.

PSG confirmed on Tuesday the world's most expensive footballer would resume light training work with them the following day and the club uploaded a video of him going through some drills at their facility.

"Neymar Jr's injury continues to respond very positively," said a statement on PSG's website.

"While the rest of the squad had a light morning session ahead of tonight's Coupe de France semi-final [against Nantes], Neymar worked through a number of ball drills with a club physio.

"A medical examination and X-ray will be done in two weeks to determine an eventual date when we can expect to see Neymar back on the pitch."

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