Fair play to Edison Cavani for telling PSG where to go
It sounds like a complete mess behind the scenes at Paris Saint-Germain.
Last week, Neymar and Edinson Cavani were involved in two separate on-field disputes during PSG's win over Lyon. As Cavani was preparing to take a penalty, his new Brazilian teammate argued with him, before shaking his head and walking away when he didn't get his way to take the penalty.
Cavani missed the subsequent spot-kick, but he has been PSG's designated penalty-taker since Zlatan Ibrahimovic left in 2016, so he was well within his rights to tell Neymar where to go.
Neymar also embarrassed himself earlier in the game.
The world's most expensive player recruited Dani Alves for this attempt to foil Cavani. The Uruguayan wanted to take a free-kick, but Alves wouldn't let him, guarding the ball before handing it over to Neymar.
Cavani looked and hurt by the actions of his teammates, and the incident seemed pre-arranged between the Brazilian pair. It was embarrassing.
See what Dani Alves did today, fighting to take the ball from Cavani to Neymar, very soon Cavani may loose his position in the PSG team pic.twitter.com/L28oPhWmcd
— Richard Acheampong (@ricangy) September 17, 2017
The situation didn't get much better following the match. According to L'Equipe, the pair continued their argument in the dressing room, and had to separated before they fought. Neymar allegedly unfollowed Cavani on Instagram and demanded that the Qatari-owned club sell his teammate at the first available opportunity.
A new report suggests that the situation has deteriorated further. According to Spanish journalist Diego Torres, there is a very serious rift in the dressing room, caused by Neymar's arrival and attitude, and Cavani has rejected €1m from the club's Qatari owners to allow Neymar to take penalties. Torres is the author of The Special One: The Secret World of Jose Mourinho, a book detailing Jose Mourinho's time as Real Madrid manager.
This just isn't going away, is it? https://t.co/WNrZGaQ6WD
— FootballJOE (@FootballJOE) September 20, 2017
The Spanish journalist had several sources at Madrid, and seemingly has a line to the PSG dressing room. He writes in El Pais newspaper that:
- The Qataris offered Cavani €1m if he surrendered penalty-taking duties to Neymar, but Cavani refused. (The Uruguayan has a clause in his contract that gives him €1m if he's the top scorer in France at the end of the season).
- Cavani reportedly told the club's Qatari owners that he wasn't interested in money, and that he wants to keep taking penalties regardless of the fee they offered him. He has played for the club for four years, and feels he warrants the status of a senior player and the right to take penalties.
- Neymar was "angry" when he realised Cavani wouldn't budge on his position. He pulled out of PSG's game last week, claiming to be injured. PSG recorded a goalless draw in his absence.
- The striker is one of five Brazilians in the first-team squad, and is said to be only happy when amongst his compatriots. He is reportedly surprised by the "unexpected resistance" and "hostility" he has encountered within the squad. According to Torres: "Cavani's manifest hostility is only the expression of a generalized feeling among his companions, especially among the veterans."
- PSG are worried they will be suspended from the Champions League for "several years" after breaching Financial Fair Play with their £198m signing of Neymar. This prompted a frantic rush to try get big earners off their wage bill.
- According to Torres, Javier Pastore, Blaise Matuidi, Angel Di Maria, Lucas Moura, Julian Draxler, Hatem Ben Arfa, Serge Aurier, and Thiago Silva were all told in August that could leave the club. Aurier joined Tottenham Hotspur, and Matuidi joined Juventus, but PSG couldn't sell the rest of the players.
- This, understandably, caused discontent among the squad, particularly over the sale of Matuidi. The French midfielder was a "leader" in the dressing room, and it appears Cavani has taken up that mantle with his opposition to Neymar. Even Thiago Silva and Lucas, two Brazilians and friends of Neymar, reportedly think he has too much power at the club, and urged him to show more respect to the veterans.
- The squad went for a dinner last week, to clear the air after the recent row between Cavani and Neymar. Torres was told by a source that the atmosphere at the get together was as "animated as a funeral."
PSG might need to do more than sell Cavani to resolve this situation and keep Neymar happy.
Neymar may be a brilliant footballer who makes £600,000 a week, but he has to hang around with Lewis Hamilton and is disliked by about 70 percent of his colleagues, so it's not all rosey for the Brazilian.