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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 21 June 2018

Neymar takes on mentor role for PSG teammate Mbappe like Messi did for him at Barcelona

Brazilian forward has struck up a prolific partnership with the France striker and Uruguayan Edinson Cavani.

Kylian Mbappe, left, Neymar, centre, and Marco Verratti during a Paris Saint-Germain training session. Franck Fife / AFP
Kylian Mbappe, left, Neymar, centre, and Marco Verratti during a Paris Saint-Germain training session. Franck Fife / AFP

Neymar has said he has become a mentor to Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) teammate Kylian Mbappe, similarly to how Lionel Messi helped the Brazilian forward during his time at Barcelona.

Neymar moved to PSG for a world record €222 million (Dh964.3m) from Barca in the summer, followed by Mbappe from Monaco on an initial loan deal which next summer will be made permanent and make the France striker the second-most expensive player in history.

Alongside Uruguayan Edinson Cavani, Neymar and Mbappe have struck up an instant and fearsome attack, with the three strikers responsible for 25 goals between them so far this season.

And Neymar has said he will continue to play a role in 18-year-old Mbappe's development.

"I hope to do the same thing with him (Mbappe) that (Lionel) Messi did with me," Neymar, who spent four seasons in Barcelona, told Brazilian television.

"He's a golden kid who has all the qualities to become a global star ... I'm going to try and help him as much as possible."

PSG and their prolific strike force next face bitter foes Marseille this weekend in the latest instalment of France's most heated but increasingly lopsided rivalry.

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With a six-point lead at the top of Ligue 1 and three wins from three in the Uefa Champions League, PSG are rolling along smoothly both at home and on the continent.

Marseille are fourth in their first full season under Rudi Garcia but needed a late equaliser from Greece striker Kostas Mitroglou on his league debut to salvage a 3-3 draw at Strasbourg last Sunday.

They trail PSG by eight points and must snap a 14-match winless run - 12 defeats and two draws - against the capital club if they are to narrow the gap this Sunday at the Velodrome.

Marseille were thrashed 5-1 by PSG in their last meeting in February and Luiz Gustavo conceded it will take an outstanding performance to slow down the league leaders.

"It's difficult to stop Neymar," the Brazilian midfielder told RMC radio, ahead of what will also be his first appearance in Le Classique. "It's almost impossible to stop him doing what he wants to do on the pitch. I know his potential, and I'm very happy to play against him. We're going to try to muzzle him so he can't express himself freely."

Monaco 'going through a tough patch'

Monaco manager Leonardo Jardim, centre, with Joao Moutinho, left, and Radamel Falcao. Claude Paris / AP Photo
Monaco manager Leonardo Jardim, centre, with Joao Moutinho, left, and Radamel Falcao. Claude Paris / AP Photo

Reigning champions Monaco will attempt to halt a run of four matches without victory in all competitions when they host Caen on Saturday.

Leonardo Jardim's team risk exiting the Champions League prematurely after Tuesday's 2-1 home defeat by Besiktas left them bottom of their group with just a single point after three matches.

The Portuguese manager said last year's semi-finalists must bear down in order to reverse their recent slide that included a last-gasp 3-2 loss at Lyon a week ago.

"We're going through a tougher patch right now. The important thing is to keep working as normal," Jardim said. "We have to remain confident. Things are going to change and improve. We have the same number of points as last season after nine matches."

Claudio Ranieri's Nantes welcome back last season's leading scorer Emiliano Sala from a hamstring injury for the visit of Guingamp as they try to extend their seven-game unbeaten run.

Lille and coach Marcelo Bielsa, with just one win on the season-opening weekend, face mounting pressure ahead of a trip to Rennes, where the future of Christian Gourcuff has also been the subject of intense speculation.

Saturday's fixture between Amiens and Bordeaux will be played 180 kilometres away in the coastal city of Le Havre after the collapse of a stadium barrier at Amiens' Stade de la Licorne left 29 fans injured and forced the September 30 game against Lille to be abandoned.

FIXTURES

All times UAE (+4 GMT)

Friday
Saint-Etienne v Montpellier (10.45pm)

Saturday
Monaco v Caen (7pm)
Amiens v Bordeaux (10pm)
Angers v Toulouse (10pm)
Metz v Dijon (10pm)
Nantes v Guingamp (10pm)
Rennes v Lille (10pm)

Sunday
Nice v Strasbourg (5pm)
Troyes v Lyon (7pm)
Marseille v Paris Saint-Germain (11pm)