Paris Saint-Germain sit at the summit of Ligue 1, having scored 21 goals in their opening seven matches. Yet beneath the veneer of goal-gluttony and a star-studded team, there are significant divisions in the squad.
PSG offered Cavani money to give Neymar penalties
The owner of PSG, Nasser Al-Khelaifa, instructed an intermediary to offer Edinson Cavani an improved contract in exchange for allowing Neymar to take penalties.
According to El País, Al-Khelaifa offered the Uruguayan forward one million euros if he finishes the season as the PSG’s leading goal-scorer in Ligue 1. That clause was not previously in his contract. Cavani, who has scored seven goals in seven league matches so far this season, rejected the offer.
The remarkable offer stems from an on-pitch spat between Cavani and Neymar, who joined the Parisian club for a world-record fee in the summer, during a 2-0 victory over Lyon. The pair bickered in the 79th minute over who would take a penalty. Cavani eventually took the spot-kick, and missed.
The two players had a similar argument several weeks earlier, when PSG beat Saint Etienne 3-0. On that occasion, Neymar asked Cavani to take a penalty, and the former-Napoli striker refused his request.
Manager Unai Emery publically closed the issue by stating that he will decide who takes penalties, yet the rift ostensibly runs deeper than the issue of who shoots from twelve yards.
'Atmosphere of tension' in PSG dressing room
El País reports that there is a ‘atmosphere of tension’ within the French club, where Unai Emery and sporting director Antero Henrique have been working with club captains, Thiago Motta and Thiago Silva, to reconcile differences. Neymar's reported apology has done little to repair damaged relationships.
Edinson Cavani’s discontent is understood to be shared by other members of the PSG squad. The ill-feeling stems from the financial implications of the €222m signing of Neymar from Barcelona. In a panicked attempt to avoid breaching UEFA Financial Fair Play regulations, Al-Khelaifa made several prominent first-team players available for transfer. Ángel Di María, Javier Pastore, Blaise Matuidi, Lucas Moura, Julian Draxler, Hatem Ben Arfa, Serge Aurier, and Thiago Silva formed part of that list.
Paris Saint-Germain have made it clear that their aim is to compete for the Champions League. Unai Emery will have to manage his dressing room with tact and sensitivity in order to maintain that objective.