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Brazil star Neymar signs contract extension to 2025 with PSG

May 8, 2021 GMT
Manchester City's Bernardo Silva, center, challenges PSG's Neymar during the Champions League semifinal second leg soccer match between Manchester City and Paris Saint Germain at the Etihad stadium, in Manchester, Tuesday, May 4, 2021. (AP Photo/Dave Thompson)
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Manchester City's Bernardo Silva, center, challenges PSG's Neymar during the Champions League semifinal second leg soccer match between Manchester City and Paris Saint Germain at the Etihad stadium, in Manchester, Tuesday, May 4, 2021. (AP Photo/Dave Thompson)
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Manchester City's Bernardo Silva, center, challenges PSG's Neymar during the Champions League semifinal second leg soccer match between Manchester City and Paris Saint Germain at the Etihad stadium, in Manchester, Tuesday, May 4, 2021. (AP Photo/Dave Thompson)

PARIS (AP) — Neymar pledged to help Paris Saint-Germain finally win the ever-elusive Champions League trophy after signing a three-year contract extension on Saturday, keeping the Brazil star at the ambitious club until 2025.

PSG posted a video of Neymar wearing a jersey with 2025 on the back and saying “Ici c’est Paris” — ‘This is Paris’, a favorite chant of the fans.

What they and the club demand is the Champions League, a trophy PSG has never won despite spending a world record 222 million euros ($270 million) on Neymar when he joined from Barcelona four years ago.

“Of course, my goal when I came was to help get Paris Saint-Germain to the top, among the very best, and we are getting close,” Neymar said. “We are gaining more and more experience to help us negotiate these types of games.”

Neymar was largely ineffective when PSG lost last year’s final 1-0 to Bayern Munich and made a limited impact when PSG was eliminated from the semifinals recently, losing both legs to Manchester City for an aggregate 4-1 loss.

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“Paris is on the right track, we are getting closer and closer to the taste of winning the Champions League,” he said. “I’m sure we can do it.”

The 29-year-old Neymar would have been out of contract next June, along with striker Kylian Mbappe — who has yet to re-sign and has been linked with a move to Spanish giant Real Madrid.

“I’m really pleased to continue my adventure at Paris Saint-Germain. I’m very happy in Paris, and proud to be part of this squad,” he said. “These are things that make me believe even more in this great project.”

Neymar also said he wants to keep working with coach Mauricio Pochettino, who joined mid-season after now-Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel was fired.

Neymar called the Argentine “a great coach who will certainly help us even more.”

However, PSG is four points behind Lille in the French title race and faces a difficult trip to Rennes on Sunday.

Neymar has scored 85 goals in 112 games since joining along with Mbappe, who joined for 180 million euros ($219 million) from Monaco.

But Neymar hasn’t delivered on the biggest stage so far, failing to score in seven straight knockout games of the Champions League, and his leadership has also been questioned.

Neymar lost his temper and berated a teammate in the home leg against City.

He threw lavish birthday parties in February close to Champions League games and questions have been asked as to whether his persistent muscle injuries are linked to a lack of sufficient recovery.

“I have changed a lot. I have learned a lot. Things have happened that should not have happened,” Neymar said. “We had fights, a few sad times, but overall, the evolution has been very positive.”

He has been riddled with foot and leg muscle injuries since his arrival, and has never played more than 20 of 38 league games in one season.

If he plays in PSG’s remaining three matches — starting away to Rennes on Sunday — he will have appeared in just 70 out of a possible 152.

Neymar has also had suspensions, missing five games after getting two red cards this campaign.

PSG has lost eight league games so far — five more than Lille — and the campaign was rocked early on after six players, including Neymar, Angel Di Maria and captain Marquinhos, came back from a club-sanctioned summer trip to Ibiza and tested positive for the coronavirus.

“I hope that the pandemic will end soon (and) that the fans will return to the stadium to support us and encourage us,” Neymar said.

The 22-year-old Mbappe is PSG’s top scorer with 37 goals in 43 games, including a league-leading 25.

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