Despite a convincing and dominant 2-0 win for PSG against Lyon on Sunday, much of the focus surrounded the antics of Neymar Jr and Edison Cavani, following what appeared to be a disagreement over the taking of a penalty and it remains to be seen whether the pair’s relationship has gone past the point of repair. The two South American forwards’ combined cost is in excess of 280 million Euros and there are reports circulating that Neymar has demanded the club sell Cavani following their penalty dispute and apparent dressing room bust-up. Whilst the two have struck up what looks to be a potent partnership on the field, the players strained relationship off it is the last thing that manager Unai Emery wants following PSG’s unbeaten start in their quest to wrestle back the Ligue 1 title from rivals Monaco.
With the score at 1-0, Unai Emery’s side had the chance to put the game beyond all doubt after earning a 78th-minute penalty against Lyon – what followed from then on can only be described as pantomime football. As PSG’s record signing, Neymar obviously felt that he was entitled to take the penalty and walked up the spot, only to be beaten to the punch by Cavani and the Uruguayan waved off Neymar’s protests before seeing his poor penalty denied by Lyon goalkeeper Anthony Lopes. You could, of course, argue that if Cavani had dispatched the penalty, the situation would have naturally dissipated and blown over but the fact that the effort on goal was so tame surely only added to the aggravation felt by Neymar.
In a world where social media is becoming increasingly important and more widely used by some of the biggest sportsmen in the world, it has also been reported that Neymar has ‘unfollowed’ Cavani on picture sharing platform Instagram – an act that is considered the digital equivalent of a slap in the face in the current technological climate we find ourselves in. Cavani has been amongst the bookmakers’ favourites to join a team in the Premier League for the last few seasons, with both Manchester United and Arsenal often topping the list of English teams linked with the big Uruguayan. The player comes in at 5/1 to join Chelsea with Ladbrokes too. Should the striker be forced out of PSG, there are various free bets and betting offers in the UK for those who feel that a Premier League move beckons for Cavani, yet need a little extra incentive to take a punt on the club he ends up plying his trade at next year.
As the old footballing adage goes, no player is bigger than the club and some of the greatest managers in the history of football have not been afraid to rid the club of a ‘bad egg’ or two if their presence is causing disruption within the squad (think Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United). PSG coach Unai Emery has recently told the players to sort the dispute out between themselves and the club’s owner, Nasser Al-Khelaifi has also stated that there is ‘no rift’ between the two players, commenting that ‘…it’s the media who are making the problems.’ However, those who witnessed the drama on the pitch last Sunday against Lyon know that these are the words of an owner trying to save face and calm the media frenzy following the incident. One thing’s for sure, the following weeks and months at PSG should make for an interesting watch.