Neymar scores hat-trick in PSG’s big win over Red Star (image courtesy Getty)

Paris Saint-Germain goalie Gianluigi Buffon says the absence of Neymar could prove a “big problem” when the French club takes on Manchester United in the Champions League on Tuesday.

PSG will be without their star man, who sustained a metatarsal injury late last month, for both legs of the last-16 tie. The Brazilian international is expected to return in April.

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It’s a huge blow for PSG with Neymar having scored five goals in six Champions League games, and United enjoying a tremendous resurgence under new caretaker boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

And the 41-year-old Buffon, who has reached the final of the competition three times but has yet to win the Champions League during his illustrious career, is wary of facing an in-form United without the Brazilian.

“I think this is a problem for us,” PSG goalkeeper Buffon told CNN in an exclusive interview ahead of Tuesday’s first leg at Old Trafford.

“I’m not sure if it’s a big problem or a little one. I hope it’s only a small problem and that we are nevertheless a team that can thrive without him, it would give us great strength and confidence.

“But I must say that without a player of Ney’s caliber, it’s going to be heavy going, particularly because in the last two or three months he’s in excellent condition both physically and mentally and would have been of enormous help.

“But nevertheless we have to do our best in order not to have any regrets and play the quarterfinals and semifinals with Ney back.

“This would be the best present we could give to him, and I’m sure he would return the favor by playing in those two matches.”