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Neymar out of French squad for injury, not birthday party

Neymar injury

Paris Saint-Germain’s Brazilian forward Neymar grimaces during the French L1 football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Montpellier Herault SC at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris, on February 1, 2020. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP) (Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images)

AFP via Getty Images

Thomas Tuchel was unimpressed by the timing of Neymar’s annual big birthday blowout, but that’s not why the Brazilian will not play at Nantes on Tuesday.

Paris Saint-Germain’s manager says Neymar suffered a rib cartilage injury and will not be fit to participate in the Ligue 1 match. PSG leads the league field by 12 points through 22 matches.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

So Tuchel is not risking the ire of one of his biggest stars, though many would jump to that conclusion after disapproving comments regarding Neymar holding a birthday party between matches.

“I always protect my players, and I really love my team,” he said. “With this party, I accept that it is a bit difficult to protect the players, but the context is not simply black or white. It is a shame because we are giving people the chance to speak badly of us. We need to adapt to the situation, but I am not going to leave a player on the bench or at home because they went out and celebrated.”

The club cannot avoid controversy in recent weeks. Even in this weekend’s blowout 5-0 win, the headlines were Kylian Mbappe’s confrontation with Tuchel after being subbed out of the win.

Neymar was injured in the defeat of Montpellier, and Tuchel insists there are no problems between him and either star striker.

Reports that PSG wants to lock Neymar down to a new deal add intrigue to the coming fallout. The Brazilian has been flirting with Barcelona and Real Madrid since summer (and possibly earlier).

The PSG job sometimes feel like a poisoned chalice, with the players having incredible power at the Parc des Princes and expectations always sky high.

PSG meets Lyon at the weekend before playing the French Cup quarterfinals on Feb. 12 and starting its UCL Round of 16 tie with Borussia Dortmund six days later.