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Transfer Rater: Neymar to Real Madrid

Football Whispers
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PSG's Thiago Motta dropped vs. Real Madrid, not yet fit to return from injury

The ESPN FC panel debate whether Neymar can live up to PSG's Champions League expectations against Real Madrid.

PARIS -- Paris Saint-Germain will be without injured vice-captain Thiago Motta at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday when they take on Real Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League round-of-16 tie.

Coach Unai Emery admitted after last Saturday's 1-0 win away at Toulouse in Ligue 1 that the veteran Italian was unlikely to feature this midweek, but he has left the deep-lying midfielder out of his 19-man squad entirely.

PSG said that Motta, 35, is expected to train at Camp des Loges on Wednesday, along with teammates Christopher Nkunku, Hatem Ben Arfa and Sebastien Cibois -- who were also left behind -- as he steps up his recovery ahead of the second leg.

Motta made his return as a substitute in PSG's 4-1 victory away at Sochaux on Feb. 6 and has made only four appearances in all competitions since Oct. 22.

Thiago Motta has been dropped by Unai Emery for PSG's game against Real Madrid.

It is now expected to be between experienced former Madrid man Lassana Diarra and talented but inexperienced youngster Giovani Lo Celso for the starting role in defensive midfield.

In some better news for Emery, Edinson Cavani and Layvin Kurzawa have been declared fit to feature in the Ligue 1 leaders' travelling party.

The two missed the win over Toulouse with hip and thigh injuries, respectively, but both have shaken off their problems to train ahead of the game against Madrid and make the trip to the Spanish capital.

Unsurprisingly, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar are included in the squad, and with Angel Di Maria likely to drop back to a substitute role after an excellent start to 2018, the two players could be reunited with Cavani.

Emery and Marquinhos will hold news conferences on Tuesday evening ahead of Wednesday's game.

Jonathan Johnson covers PSG and the French national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @Jon_LeGossip.

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