'Di Maria is a gift' - Tuchel hails PSG star for stepping up in the absence of Neymar & Cavani

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AFP
The German boss has been a long-time admirer of the Argentina attacker and relishes coaching him at the Parc Des Princes

Angel Di Maria's performances in the absence of Neymar and Edinson Cavani are a "gift" to Paris Saint-Germain boss Thomas Tuchel.

Di Maria hit a brace in Tuesday's 3-0 win over Dijon in the quarter-finals of the Coupe de France – the latest in a string of impressive performances over recent weeks.

The Argentina international excelled in the 2-0 Champions League win over his former club Manchester United earlier this month, with PSG having headed to Old Trafford without Neymar and Cavani due to respective metatarsal and hip injuries.

Tuchel feels ex-Real Madrid man Di Maria's long-established pedigree on big occasions has been vital to his team during a tricky period.

"Di Maria won the Champions League with Real Madrid, I was watching his matches and he was the decisive player in those matches, the key guy," the former Borussia Dortmund boss told reporters.

"I think of the final against Atletico [in 2014] and I was a big fan of their mentality and quality.

"Now he's my player and, as I've said many times, it's a gift. He shows his quality and mentality every day, he is super reliable. He is one of the first to arrive at the training centre every day, he is a top professional with a good state of mind.

"With him, you can win because he plays to win and to score. Right now, he is very important to us because he has the quality to finish our attacks and score goals. He has the quality and precision with his strike.

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"You can see that he feels good, that he has a lot of confidence and that he has scored many important goals and made assists. That's good and it should stay that way. We miss Edi and Neymar [but] Angel is still there."

Cavani is set to resume training with PSG this week, while Neymar is targeting a return in time for the quarter-finals of the Champions League – should Tuchel's men finish the job against United.

The Parisian's must first negotiate a Ligue 1 clash away at Caen this Saturday, as they look to extend their commanding 17 point lead at the top of the table.

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