GUINGAMP, France — Neymar has been included in Paris Saint-Germain’s starting lineup to face Guingamp in the French league with the world’s most expensive soccer player set to make his long-awaited debut in the small Brittany town later Sunday.
Neymar signed from Barcelona last week but the Brazil star missed the start of the season at the Parc des Princes against Amiens due to paperwork problems.
Hired for a world-record 222 million euros ($262 million), Neymar will play on the left wing of PSG’s attack. PSG coach Unai Emery opted for a 4-3-3 formation with Angel Di Maria supporting centre-forward Edinson Cavani on the other wing.
On a sleepy summer Sunday, the atmosphere slowly built in the small town of Guingamp, though most of the streets were still empty mid-afternoon.
Fans later gathered for pre-match drinks at a downtown bar, "Le panier a salade (The salad shaker)," where walls are adorned with autographed jerseys from Guingamp players.
Some PSG fans mingled with home supporters in a friendly atmosphere.
"It’s magic to see Neymar at the Roudourou stadium," said Florian Nicolas, a 30-year-old PSG fan who settled in Brittany five years ago. "This match will be watched worldwide."
A town of 7,000 inhabitants known for its local galette-Saucisse treat –a sausage rolled in a crepe — Guingamp is also football-crazy and has witnessed the emergence of world-class players including the likes of Didier Drogba and Florent Malouda in the early 2000s.
More than 18,000 fans are expected at the stadium, which the club says will be a record.