Mbappe: Neymar is human, too
French striker defends Brazilian superstar who broke down in press conference
Kylian Mbappe insisted his Paris Saint-Germain teammate Neymar is "human like everyone else" after the Brazilian was reduced to tears on Friday by the controversy that has followed him since his arrival from Barcelona.
A tearful Neymar pleaded with the media to stop the "false stories" about his alleged frosty relationship with PSG coach Unai Emery and fellow striker Edinson Cavani following Brazil's 3-1 international friendly win over Japan in Lille.
The 25-year-old said he was "hurt" by the issue, before adding that he was "really happy" in Paris following his world-record 222-million-euro (S$352 million) transfer in August.
Mbappe, Neymar and Cavani have linked up to devastating effect this season, with the trio combining to score 24 goals in PSG's first 12 league matches.
But Mbappe conceded Neymar was just as susceptible to criticism as anyone else.
"It just simply proves that he's human like everyone else. He's like us, he has two arms, two legs, a heart, so he can be affected by the criticism he is subjected to," Mbappe told French television channel TF1 yesterday.
"From the outside, he gives off a certain image, he doesn't appear to be affected... But when you're on the inside, he opens himself up to you, he shows he's a normal person.
"He's incredibly strong on the pitch, so you think he's just as strong off it but, away from it, he remains a normal guy."
Last Friday, after scoring from the penalty spot in Brazil's win over Japan, Neymar refuted suggestions that he regretted moving to the French club.
I don't have any problems at PSG, the only thing that bothers me is the pressure from the media. Neymar on media reports that he is unhappy at Paris Saint-Germain
"I don't like whispers and stories so it's better that you hear it from the horse's mouth," he said.
"I don't have any problems at PSG, the only thing that bothers me is the pressure from the media. I'm a guy who likes to win, I like winning titles and that's why I came to PSG.
"I'm very happy, I'm motivated. They are inventing stories which aren't true, I don't have any problems with (forward) Edinson Cavani or with my coach (Unai Emery).
"I came to help and to be happy, I didn't come to upset anyone or cause trouble."
Brazil coach Tite backed Neymar and denied suggestions that he also had a troubled relationship with the player.
"I keep hearing that Tite has problems with Neymar and I am tired of hearing that... we are tired of it," he said.
"I know that if he did have problems, then he would have the decency and the good character to talk about them in the dressing room.
"I can vouch for Neymar's temperament, his good nature and his big heart."
Neymar was clearly moved by those words and left in tears after being given a pat on the head by his coach.
Brazil, who have won 13 out of 16 games under Tite, will face England in a friendly at Wembley on Wednesday morning (Singapore time). - WIRE SERVICES