Kylian Mbappe makes demands to PSG in front of stunned crowd at awards show

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The French have a saying for when you put your foot in it, it’s called faux pas and PSG striker Kylian Mbappe did just that at the French football awards at the weekend. Mbappe received the highest award with winning the player of the season in France and then hinted in front of a packed audience that included PSG’s owners and PSG manager Thomas Tuchel that his future may lie elsewhere, it was a stunning moment.

Mbappe took his award and then told everyone listening: “It’s a very important moment for me, I come to a turning point in my career. I have discovered a lot here, and I feel it is maybe the moment to have more responsibility.I hope that can perhaps be at Paris St Germain, that would be a great pleasure. Or maybe elsewhere with a new project.”

Mbappe’s statement is one of intent and he is clearly not happy at PSG. This in part may be to do with the fact that the club keep blowing up at the knockout rounds of the Champions League but at the same time there is a strong feeling that Real Madrid have approached PSG and offered upwards of 250 million euros for the player.

The 20 year old joined the club in 2017 after guiding Monaco to a Ligue 1 title, initially this was on a loan deal before he joined for a transfer fee in the region of £160m becoming the 2nd most expensive player in history behind Neymar his PSG teammate.

While Mbappe has had a fantastic season scoring 32 goals in just 28 games and 38 overall this season his speech will strike some as shocking. At just 20 he wants to rule the roost and have his say, and while he undoubtedly has the talent to be remembered as one of the greats one could wonder if he isn’t getting too ahead of himself. Or could it be that Real Madrid have already made contact and Mbappe was asked to stoke the fires somewhat- to do that in this company, well he has got a reaction that is for sure.

So what can PSG do to keep the player happy? First will be a wage rise, next could be that Mbappe wants more say, what exactly that extends to is anyone’s guess, but he has now laid down a marker and it feels that it is only a question of when and not if Mbappe leaves the club. The destination looks set for Madrid, rare has any player in the past turned the club down, why should that stop at Mbappe?

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Ligue 1: Week 37: Player Picks for the Weekend

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Most of the major European leagues have finished but in France Ligue 1 doesn’t end until the end of the month. PSG are champions of course and Lille and Lyon look like they will get Champions League places. Relegation is still up for grabs though, could Caen really survive and take down the 2017 champions Monaco, it looks more likely as the season draws to a close.

Below we pick in a 4-4-2 formation the players that could be most likely to shine and earn you points this weekend.

Goalkeeper: Stephane Ruffier- Saint Etienne

Stephane Ruffier has been superb in goal for Saint Etienne and the club have conceded just 3 in the last 6 games. They will be at home to Nice and this is the clubs last roll of the dice. Ruffier can be added to your team for 7.5m.

Defender: Marcelo- Lyon

Marcelo has played 31 times and is ranked as the best Lyon defender this season. Lyon are at home and really need the win. They will have a tough game against Caen who are fighting to stay up, but Lyon possess more quality and Marcelo is just 8m.

Defender: Dani Alves

Dani Alves for PSG could have a good game, this is PSG’s last home match of the season and it may well be Alves last game for PSG given his age. He will want to put in a good performance and they are playing Dijon who are really struggling, Alves could well earn some valuable points here.

Defender: Hilton- Montpellier

Hilton has played almost the whole season and Montpellier kept a clean sheet in their last game as they try and finish the season on a high. They are playing Nantes at the weekend but they are at home and every chance to get a good result, he is 6m.

Defender: Lamine Kone- Strasbourg

Kone has a had a decent season and has become a staple figure in the side. It is true that Strasbourg have just 1 clean sheet in their past five games however the club will feel confident that they can do so when they entertain Rennes at the weekend and Kone should be looked into.

Midfielder: Remi Oudin- Reims

Oudin is valued at 10m but he has had a great season for Reims even if the club are going through a difficult spell. He has assisted in 3 goals and scored a further 10 and with the season almost near the end he might be worth sticking in your team.

Midfielder: Arber Zeneli- Reims

Sticking with Reims, is Zeneli another player that can switch it on and create chances. Reims have not been in good form but have the quality to finish the season well and they will be playing Bordeaux who have been very poor this season so their luck could change. Zeneli can be yours for just 6.5m.

Midfielder: Ismaila Sarr-Rennes

Sarr has been in good form for Rennes as they take on Strasbourg away at the weekend it what could end up being quite a close game. Sarr has scored 7 goals and also assisted 6 times and he is valued at 7.5m.

Midfielder: Wylan Cyprien- Nice

Cyprien has so much quality but what tends to happen is that he goes through periods of the season quiet. The question is can he finish it on form and with a bang? He can be brought into your team for a bargain 5m and Nice will be playing Saint Etienne at the weekend.

Striker: Nicolas Pepe- Lille

Nicolas Pepe has been one of the best players in Ligue 1. This is Lille’s last game at home to secure 2nd place and it all looks set for Pepe to add to his goals this season. He should be taken on.

Striker: Edinson Cavani- PSG

This could be Cavani’s final game in Paris as he is set to leave the club. He has scored so many goals for the club. Kylian Mbappe is struggling with fitness and Neymar is banned from this game, so this should be Cavani’s time to step up and score a few goals. He is 13m which is expensive but at the same time the players will be creating many chances for him, that’s for sure.

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Ligue 1: Player of the Weekend: Maxwell Cornet

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With a few clean sheets this past weekend in Ligue 1 goal keepers ruled the roost with plenty earning 7 points, but the overall winner is Lyon’s Maxwell Cornet who earned 8 points as his side overcame Marseille at Stade Velodrome winning 3-0.

Cornet opened the scoring from close range and it was an important strike as at that time Marseille were applying pressure and asking many questions from the visitors. Cornet struck again to get his 2nd and Lyon’s 3rd goal of the night with just four minutes remaining. The player has proven to score goals and be reliable even if he isn’t always Lyon’s number 1 choice, he is a classic ‘fox in the box’ type of player and is usually in the right place at the right time. Cornet could have had a hat-trick but he had one goal ruled out for offside.

Cornet’s goals at the weekend ended Marseille’s European hopes for next season and strengthened his sides chances of finishing in a Champions League position. Lyon remain 3rd which means they would have to partake in a play-off to get to the competition proper but they are 6 points adrift of 2nd placed Lille. This win was still huge though as Saint Etienne who were threatening to take 3rd from them lost and that gap is now 4 points with just 2 games to play, so Lyon are almost at the finish line.

Lyon’s coach Bruno Genesio had this to say about the match and the possibility of playing Champions League football next season: ”Are we in the Champions League yet? No. There are two games left, six points, and we must win next Saturday to be certain of a third-place finish and possibly qualify directly depending on the Europa League final. The score was a bit harsh but we could’ve led 2-0 at half-time. We had a lull in the second half and Marseille pushed, but I think on the whole we deserved to win. We had two goals at the start of the season. The first was to get to the knockout stage of the Champions League, which we achieved, and the second was to qualify for next season’s competition, which is nearly done.”

As for Cornet from only his 10th start of the season after appearing from the bench no less than 15 times he has scored 4 goals and assisted in another 3. That means that Cornet has been involved in 11% of Lyon’s total output of goals this season. He has a total of 21 points in Ligue 1 Fantasy football rankings and is valued at 6m. With Lyon pushing in their final 2 games of the season and Cornet on obvious form he might be worth adding to your team.

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Lille secure Champions League football and Neymar redeems himself ahead of PSG ban

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It’s been a tough month for PSG star Neymar who learned that he would receive a 3 game Champions League ban next season for being critical of match officials when PSG lost to Manchester United. Then the Brazilian was handed a 3 game ban by Ligue 1 after he hit out at a fan at the end of the Coupe de France final. PSG are appealing on that, but he was on target to open the scoring as PSG beat Angers 2-1 at the weekend.

It was Neymar’s 15th goal of the season which with his long term injury considered is a decent return. The win was also PSG’s 2nd win in 5 games as they have gone through the worst form of their season in the last month which included losing in the final of the Coupe de France to Rennes. Of course they became champions weeks ago and the players seem to have switched off but the win away to Angers was still an important one.

The big news came from Lille and saw the side secure their Champions League place for next season after they beat Bordeaux 1-0. They will almost certainly finish 2nd but even if they lost their last two games and Lyon won their next two, they would finish 3rd which would still be good for the qualifying stages, but the odds are looking great for them to finish in the runners up spot. The Bordeaux victory was the clubs 19th of the season.

Lyon went away to Marseille and secured a brilliant 3-0 win to give them a huge advantage in finishing the season in 3rd place and possible Champions League for next season. Playing at Stade Velodrome was no mean task and the game was loaded with tension throughout. Maxwell Cornet who has been brilliant for the team this season scored a brace and was the eventual hero. Lyon remains 6 points behind Lille but have now pulled four points clear of Saint Etienne.

Saint Etienne who had won 4 games on the bounce really had to win at home to Montpellier but they were downed by a Gaetan Laborde goal, which more or less ended their Champions League hopes. They would have to win their last 2 games and hope that Lyon lost both or lost one and drew one and that seems unlikely.

Could Montpellier pip Saint Etienne for that final Europa League place though? The club at least gave themselves a chance by beating the club at the weekend but they are still 4 points adrift and it looks like, despite their heroics, that they will just miss out.

Marseille certainly will as they have just 55 points and the best they can hope for now is to finish in 5th place. The club started strongly this season only to fade away in the winter months and then bounce back again soon after. But they look to be going through poor form once again and have no wins in their last 3 games.

Any European football officially ended for Nice this past weekend but they still pulled off a decent 1-1 draw against Nantes who came into that game having won 5 matches in a row including wins over PSG, Lyon and Marseille. That was the 11th draw this season for Nice though, just 3 of those matches converted into wins and the team would be challenging for Europe.

And Nimes continued their fine form by beating Monaco 1-0, that’s 3 wins from their last four games and they took advantage of Reims poor form to move 3 points clear of them and firmly establish 8th place. Nimes could finish as high as 6th if their form continues and others drop points around them.

Finally matchday 36 was one that saw referees having to work over time with no less than 6 red cards dished out. Four of those to top 8 sides and a few players will have played their last games of the campaign for their respective clubs.

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Thierry Henry sacked, Leonardo Jardim returns and yet Monaco could still be relegated from Ligue 1

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If anything at least it hasn’t been a quiet forgettable season for Monaco. The 2017 champions and the only team to stop PSG winning the league since 2012 are in 17th place and have a realistic chance of being relegated.

Thierry Henry infamously replaced Leonardo Jardim who had guided the club to their Ligue 1 win and had done pretty much nothing wrong to be sacked in the first place. This was proven just 4 months later when Henry couldn’t even buy a win and was sacked as Monaco lay in the bottom three. He was inevitably replaced by Jardim and Monaco’s fortune swiftly turned around, well at least, for a few weeks.

It seems though that Jardim and possibly even Henry were not the root of the problem and the real problem for the club is that for many seasons they have constantly sold their best players. Run as a business Monaco have been terrific one of the best clubs in Europe, buy cheap and sell large. Clubs such as Manchester City and PSG have spent hundreds of millions acquiring the talent pool from Monaco. That is all very well and good but was it worth it to be playing in Ligue 2?

Jardim has simply not been able to turn things around enough for a club who have slumped in the past month. Their latest defeat was against newly promoted Nimes losing 1-0 and Monaco are 17th. The problem for the club is that they are only in this position on goal difference. Caen have found excellent form and have the same number of points on them on 33. And that is not all, Dijon’s victory over Strasbourg at the weekend means that they have 31 and remain a threat and there is still 2 games to play in the league.

Monaco have lost 3 of their last four games and from their last 10 games they have won just once. Their last victory came 2 months ago when they beat Lille. Indeed that has been a sticking point with the club. Their last two wins came against Lille who are 2nd and Lyon who are 3rd, but they have had a hard time beating teams just above them and around them which could ultimately be their downfall.

Will Monaco survive? Well if they finish 18th that is no longer automatic relegation in France and instead they would partake in a play off against the 3rd place Ligue 2 side to see who would be promoted and relegated. Monaco’s last two games are at home to Amiens and then away in the derby against Nice. How ironic that it is Nice who could end up sending them down?

The Amiens game then is massive and win that and that should be enough to fend off the challenge from Dijon. Plus Dijon have to play PSG away from home next, and yes whilst PSG have been in poor form, no one is expecting them to lose that match. So Dijon do look down. As for Caen that is the real worry for Monaco, since Caen would be 6th in the league on form.

Caen have to play Lyon away which is going to be incredibly tough and then finish the season with a home game against Bordeaux. It’s going to be close and both Caen and Monaco could finish on 36 points.

While the excitement of who would win Ligue 1 felt done and dusted by Christmas the relegation battle is only just heating up with 2 games to go.

Remy Cabella sent off as Saint Etienne’s Champions League hopes hang by a thread

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Saint Etienne didn’t need this type of controversy, indeed all they needed to do was keep their heads, but against Montpellier at the weekend it went all wrong.

The club had been in such great form coming into this game winning their last 4 matches in a row and had put real pressure on Lyon in 3rd place for that final Champions League position. Indeed the Verts as they are known entered the game which was played on Friday night just 1 point behind Lyon. Playing at home they were expected to win given that they have the third best home record in the league but Montpellier were not reading the script.

In the end it took one goal, scored by Gaetan Laborde to settle matters and Saint Etienne lost the game and ended up losing their minds, borne out of frustration of course.

The game had no less than 7 yellow cards and 2 reds. First to go was Daniel Congre from Montpellier who received his marching orders on the 53rd minute for roughing. This seemed to play into Saint Etienne’s hands and yet roughly 10 minutes later they themselves would be down to 10 players and it wasn’t just any player seeing red by Remy Cabella, who has shone recently for the club and really stepped up. Well at the weekend he stepped down and took an early shower to go with it.

Two minutes later Laborde scored just to rub salt in the wounds, and for Saint Etienne they dominated every statistic but the one that counted and lost the game.

Saint Etienne’s coach Jean-Louis Gasset believes the game should have ended in a draw he said: ”Given how we ended the game, with all these balls passing in front of Montpellier’s goal, a draw would’ve been fair. We weren’t focused enough after Montpellier went down to 10 men. We rushed things trying to score immediately. Montpellier scored at a fateful moment. We gave everything, we had chances, but we lacked a cutting edge. We missed the chance to confirm our Europa League place, but we have two games left.”

Lyon played on Sunday and beat Marseille 3-0 which means that they have pulled 4 points clear from 4th with just 2 games remaining and look like the massive favourites now to go on and get 3rd.

As for Saint Etienne they now have Montpellier in their rear view mirror for 4th, although there is a four point gap and Saint Etienne’s consolation looks like a Europa League place.

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Is Jose Mourinho nearing the PSG job?

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Love him or dislike him football doesn’t quite feel the same without the special one Jose Mourinho involved in it, and no Russian punditry doesn’t count. It is obviously only a matter of time before Mourinho is back in management, but with what club will it be for?

With the Premier League and La Liga seemingly ruled out for the time being it seems that Mourinho’s next move could either be to go Italy, he is loved at Inter Milan or perhaps a new fresh challenge in France’s Ligue 1.

A few weeks ago Mourinho was being linked to French giants Lyon, this made sense given that the PSG job looked like a total no- no given how strong the club had been under coach Thomas Tuchel in his debut season.

The problem with Lyon is that they have regularly been a good 20 points off of PSG’s pace. Could the presence of Mourinho and a fresh cheque book really make a difference and end PSG’s dominance in France? It would make for a great challenge for Mourinho, who has never really taken a risk in football since joining Inter Milan a decade ago.

But time is short and quick in football and now Tuchel at PSG is under pressure. Since news broke of Mourinho possibly going to Ligue 1 PSG were knocked out of the Champions League by Manchester United, a team in transition and a team PSG had beat in England in the 1st leg 2-0. PSG had bottled it once again ran the headlines and to be frank it felt like they did.

Then the club missed out on a domestic double by losing the Coupe de France final to unfancied Rennes, all of a sudden PSG won just one trophy this season and have lost countless times as the season comes to an end. It has been a bittersweet one for Tuchel even if PSG did win the league.

The cracks are there that weren’t a few months ago, indeed coming into the new year Tuchel and PSG seemed like the perfect fit. No body is talking about it but surely the threat of Mourinho lurks around the corner for Tuchel.

At the same time Mourinho has had two complete meltdowns in his last 2 jobs and PSG must be weary of that. Has Mourinho learned from those experiences and more importantly is he willing to learn. Just for the circus of it all having Mourinho in Paris seems great for football, but Tuchel may well still be the right man for the club if they give him time.

 

Ligue 1: Week 36: Player Picks for the Weekend

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There is just 3 games to go in Ligue 1 and we will be taking  a look at the fixtures at the weekend and try to pick out who we think will be the best performing players to add to your team at the weekend. We will be using a formation of 4-4-2.

Goalkeeper: Maxime Dupe- Nantes

Maxime Dupe has been drafted into the Nantes squad with first choice goal keeper injured and in his last game he was able to keep a clean sheet. Nantes are the best team in France based on recent form and they will play Nice who are not prolific goal scorers. Dupe is a bargain at just 1.5m to add to your team.

Defender: Diego Carlos

Keeping with Nantes it is true that even though they have been winning games they have been conceding, but that changed last weekend with a 3-0 win over Dijon. Diego Carlos is their best performing defender and he could put in another good shift against Nice. He is valued at 6m.

Defender: Mathieu Debuchy- Saint Etienne

We named Debucy player of the week a few weeks ago and he has had a terrific season so far. Saint Etienne play Montpellier at home in a must win game and the player is sure to be on top form and motivated for this game. He is rated at 7.5m.

Defender: Faitout Maouassa- Nimes

Maouassa was one of the best players last week in Ligue 1 as Nimes went to Reims and won 3-0 and kept a clean sheet in the process. Maouassa is listed as a midfielder but Nimes have been playing him in defence in recent matches and he is valued at 5m. Nimes will be at home against Monaco where they will fancy their chances.

Defender: Damien Da Silva- Rennes

It’s true that Rennes have only kept one clean sheet in their last four games but they will be at home to one of the poorest performing teams all season in Guingamp and they have the chance to win to nil in this game. Da Silva is the best defender Rennes have and he can be part of your team for just 5m.

Midfielder: Leo Dubois- Lyon

There are better midfielders at Lyon that is for sure but Leo Dubois could be worth picking at the weekend. He is a player that doesn’t mind coming forward in the game and he has already assisted in 5 times from just 18 starts. He looks good to include in your team for just 6.5m as Lyon take on Marseille to try and reach 2nd place.

Midfielder: Julien Draxler -PSG

Draxler still keeps needing to prove himself and he should be able to get more and more game time now that PSG have won the league. Form is poor for the club but they have the opportunity to turn this around at the weekend when they play Angers away from home. Draxler is valued at 6m which is a great price for a PSG player and remember he has assisted 6 times this season and scored 3 goals.

Midfielder: Frederic Guilbert-Caen

Caen might be 18th but they have been terrific going their last 3 games unbeaten and keeping clean sheets. Guilbert has been the rock in midfield this season starting 30 games and making a couple of assists. Caen are ready to survive in Ligue 1 and he is valued at 6m as the club take on Reims at home.

Midfielder: Ibrahima Sissoko- Strasbourg

Strasbourg are drawing games and becoming very hard to beat and they should have enough to cause 19th place Dijon problems at the weekend. Sissoko is one of the teams best midfielders assisting 2 times this season and could be worth snapping up for 4.5m.

Striker: Remy Cabella – Saint Etienne

Remy Cabella is established and shouldn’t be a surprise to be here but if you don’t have him you should invest in him. He has his goal scoring boots on but also his team are going for 3rd place and are in brilliant form plus they are at home against Montpellier who can’t get a European place. Cabella can be in your side for 7m.

Striker: Nicolas Pepe- Lille

Nicolas Pepe has been outstanding this season and is still a great price to buy at just 8m. Next season he is sure to be higher as he has scored 20 times this season and assisted in 11 other goals. Lille are at home to underperforming Bordeaux and could seal their Champions League place with a win at the weekend. We expect Pepe to be involved in goals.

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Ligue 1 Player of the Weekend: Valentin Rongier

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One of the best teams in France’s Ligue 1 in the last month has been Nantes- a club that seem to famously struggle season after season. But after the pressure of not getting sucked into a relegation battle together with knowing that they would not be able to secure enough points for European qualification, the shackles have come off the club and they have been simply superb.

On form Nantes would be in 1st place having won their last 5 games and those victories are not just against any clubs. It’s more a roll call of the best teams in the league which include PSG, Lyon and Marseille. Indeed had Nantes started the season in this fashion people would be taking the club seriously on a league challenge and most certainly a chance of qualifying for the Champions League.

Valentin Rongier has been a big part of Nantes revival. The midfielder who has played 33 times this season has been a rock in the middle of the field and has scored 4 goals and assisted in 5 others.

At the weekend Nantes beat relegation threatened Dijon 3-0 in a very easy win at home and Rongier scored the 3rd and final goal to seal victory with 10 minutes left. This past weekend Rongier by scoring from midfield and with his club keeping a clean sheet earned 8 points in Ligue 1 Fantasy football which is more than any other player at the weekend.

Those 8 points have put Rongier of 37 points which means he is the 54th best player in the league according to the rankings and the 18th best midfielder in the league. His value is 4.5m.

Rongier scored at the weekend after being set up by Samuel Moutoussamy to slide the ball home. Nantes manager Vahid Halihodzic said: “We created some very good chances in the first half, but unfortunately we didn’t take them. At half-time I told them to keep their pace up but to try and stay organised, because they have one or two boys who can hurt you with individual actions. In the second half, it was almost logical that we scored three goals. The team played at a good level, especially going forward. We were still a bit wasteful. We have to make better choices.”

Nantes could yet break into the top 10 and finish there and they look almost certain to do so if they can keep up their terrific form. They have certainly been the best side led by Rongier for the past month.

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Why Neymar and Cavani are undermining Thomas Tuchel at PSG

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Thomas Tuchel arrived at PSG last summer full of smiles and ambitions. Despite leading the club to another league title, it is coming to the end of the season and you’d have a better chance of finding hens teeth than a smile on Tuchel’s face.

There has been two evident problems. Neymar and Edinson Cavani- the two strikers for PSG, who let’s face it, have never got along well. Ever since the pair had an inflated ego row about who would take a penalty soon after Neymar completed his surprise switch from Barcelona, tempers have flared. You can pretend that arguing over a penalty means little and it can be forgotten about, but it never was.

Cavani knew that the presence of Neymar meant that he would get less goals and that all of a sudden he wasn’t the biggest fish in the Paris pond. At the same time Neymar needed to establish himself as the euro 200m signing that he was being prepped up to be- the most expensive player in the history of football couldn’t just let Cavani get on and take that penalty. The arguments and slight jabs have not stopped. And yet both players could be exiting the club in the summer, which one will hold the door for the other is the 64 million question.

All of this seems to be undermining the job that Tuchel has on his hands at PSG- perhaps the German coach cannot control the egos- who knows? Look at Neymar recently handed a 3 match ban by UEFA for insulting the match officials on social media after the club were admittingly controversially knocked out of the Champions League by Manchester United. Neymar will miss the first 3 games of the group stages no matter what club he plays for next season.

Then after returning from injury he played in the Coupe de France final only for PSG to lose 3-2. Neymar then lashed out at a fan after what appeared to be harmless banter. Proceedings have been opened up against the player, who could miss the rest of the season.

The case of Edinson Cavani is according to reports that the player wants to leave the club and move to the Premier League. He has put in a good service for PSG, though always come up short in Europe. But the timing just seems wrong from Cavani, it feels like a lack of respect and quite controversial to announce he wants away when he has missed a chunk of the season due to injury and received support from his club in the process.

Will Tuchel keep his job? He deserves too only to possibly see the back of one or even both players and try to get an ego free season from the club that is simply riddled with it. One suspects all three subjects in this piece could be on their merry way that is the circus around the city of Paris right now. We will have to wait and see.

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