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Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar has admitted there was “tension” between himself and team-mate Edinson Cavani earlier in the campaign.
During a September meeting with Lyon in Ligue 1, the duo appeared to disagree over who should take a penalty, sparking speculation about a feud between the two forwards following Neymar’s arrival in the summer for a world-record fee.
Cavani saw the spot-kick saved after the dispute, and later that month, Neymar took over from Cavani on penalty duties in the victory over Bordeaux.
Speaking about the incident to TV Globo’s Atlas Horas (h/t Sport), Neymar said the moment was blown out of proportion, though he did say the pair had a spiky relationship at that juncture.
“It was made to sound bigger than it really was,” said the Brazilian. “Of course there was a certain tension, friction with Cavani, but we resolved it quickly. Three days after it happened, we all sat down and we talked. We’re two great players, but we’re also people and we had to resolve the personal side of things.”
Francois Mori/Associated Press
As relayed by journalist Tom Williams, the reaction in France was far from understated:
Tom Williams @tomwfootball
Trouble in paradise? @lequipe says Neymar and Cavani had to be kept apart in changing room after arguing about set-piece duties against Lyon https://t.co/Q8dos8C1Ab
According to a report from Sport (h/t Will Griffee of the MailOnline), Neymar was so unhappy with the situation that he’d made it clear to the PSG hierarchy that he wanted Cavani to be sold.
“The reports which came out were much bigger, I think because that’s what sells: people oversell the stories, talk about things they shouldn’t,” Neymar added in the Atlas Horas interview.
In 2016-17, Cavani was the main man at PSG, as he led the line tremendously for the team following the departure of Zlatan Ibrahimovic. However, once Neymar and Kylian Mbappe arrived ahead of the current term, it was obvious he was going to have to share some of the responsibility.
Thibault Camus/Associated Press
Neymar was wonderful for PSG in the early portion of the campaign, helping the team establish a massive lead at the top of Ligue 1; he has 19 goals and 13 assists from 20 appearances. The Parisians clinched the title on Sunday, as they hammered last season’s champions Monaco 7-1.
Neymar has missed the team’s recent matches after breaking his metatarsal in February, and as noted by journalist Jeremy Smith, he didn’t appear too invested in the celebrations:
Jeremy Smith @jeremysmith98
Neymar not at the Parc to celebrate his team’s (and employer’s) title because he’s playing poker.
I’d suggest the fact that that kind of thing is allowed to happen goes a long way to explaining their failure to progress in the Champions League.
If Neymar, Cavani and Mbappe can continue to coexist at PSG, the firepower is there for the team to launch a serious assault on the UEFA Champions League next season. More investment will be needed in other areas of the team if they’re to challenge Europe’s biggest clubs, though.
Still, there’s been speculation aplenty about Neymar’s future, with Miguel Delaney of The Independent reporting earlier this year that Real Madrid want to bring him back to La Liga at the end of the campaign.