While Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic may have polarised opinion throughout his career, few can argue with the pedigree of clubs that he has represented. With a resume that includes successful stints at Inter Milan, Barcelona and now French champions Paris St. Germain, the man known simply as ‘Zlatan’ has amassed an array of winners’ medals and an enduring reputation for moments of individual brilliance. While his perceived arrogance and occasional lack of work rate may detract slightly from his appeal, there is no doubt that both PSG and the Swedish national team have come to rely on his extraordinary ability.
Both teams are being forced to do without the talismanic frontman at present, however, as he remains side-lined with a seemingly innocuous heel injury incurred during the home league clash with Olympique Lyonnais at the beginning of the season. Having initially been ruled out for a couple of weeks, it appears as though the severity of the injury has been underestimated and experts are predicting that Ibrahimovic may miss many more key games in the coming weeks. While the French newspaper Le Parisien claims that he is highly unlikely to require surgery, he is expected to be unavailable for clashes with Bordeaux, Lorient and APOEL in the UEFA Champions League.
If his injury persists, Ibrahimovic may also miss the top of the table league clash with leaders Olympique Marseille and Sweden’s crucial European Championship qualifier with Montenegro. This may have a devastating impact on both PSG and Sweden, with the former seven points off the pace in the French League and the latter having collected just five points from their first three qualifying matches. With Uruguayan striker Edinson Cavani now controversially suspended for PSG and Sweden lacking a world class striking alternative, both teams will be praying that their frontman makes a quick and total recovery.
Both PSG and Sweden have struggled noticeably without Ibrahimovic’s presence up front, and this should come as no surprise given his pedigree and experience as an international forward. PSG look particularly lightweight in Europe without Ibrahimovic leading the line, and this is confirmed by the Freebets Champions League infographicwhich suggests that the Swede is the clubs best performing player in the competition. With his absence likely to extend beyond the next two weeks and well into November, however, both club and country will need to find a viable alternative if they are to achieve their short-term goals.
Paris Saint-Germain forward Edinson Cavani has admitted he could be tempted to leave the French champions unless the club adapt their tactics and give the Uruguayan a more attacking role. Cavani became the most expensive player in French football history following his £60million move to Paris from Napoli last summer, but the 27-year old has been forced to play the majority of the season on the right wing.
While the Uruguay international has impressed with 21 goals to his name this season, playing an important role in PSG being the overwhelming Betfair favourites to defend their Ligue 1 title, Cavani has made no secret over the fact that he isn’t able to get forward more and show off the abilities that convinced PSG to splash out a record transfer fee to acquire his football talents.
After starting the season with a traditional 4-4-2 system, PSG head coach Laurent Blanc has changed his tactics and switched to 4-3-3, forcing Cavani to do much of his work on the flanks with Zlatan Ibrahmovic leading the attack for the French giants.
And Cavani has revealed that he is not happy with his current situation, making it clear he wouldn’t rule out a possible summer move to the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea and Real Madrid, who have all been tipped by Betfair punters to be in the race to sign the forward.
“I am fine in Paris, but obviously there are things we have to talk about with the club, things we need to do in a different way. For a forward used to scoring and which has to do defensive tasks now, it is not easy,” said Cavani.
“Playing in 4-4-2 was my vision of the team when I joined Paris. It is one of the arguments that motivated me to sign in that club.”
With the World Cup coming up this summer, Cavani will be forced to leave thoughts of his long-term future at the back of his minds. With Uruguay being backed by a number Betfair fans to cause a surprise in this summer’s tournament, Cavani will be a crucial part of the South American’s hopes.
Paris Saint-Germain chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi has poured water on rumours that Javier Pastore would want to leave the French champions during the January transfer window. The Argentinean playmaker has failed to live up to the lofty expectations that have surrounded him since his big-money move from Palermo in 2011.
With PSG rumoured to be open to the idea of selling the Argentina international, a number of European clubs are been linked with Pastore, with Liverpool, now 4/6 to finish in the top four, rumoured to be very interested in taking the midfielder to the Premier League.
However, despite the rumours, Al-Khelaifi believes Pastore is happy in Paris and insists the 24-year-old has played an important role in the club’s recent history, in which the midfielder was one of the first major players signed by the ambitious Qatari owners.
“I am not sure Pastore wants to leave. When a player is unhappy it is difficult to keep him. But it is not the case with Pastore. We will never forget he was one of the very first key players to join our project,” said the PSG chairman.
“We are loyal to our players as we ask them to be loyal to the club. Pastore is both a man and player of quality. Maybe he is in a difficult period, but he remains one of the biggest talents in the football world.”
After a somewhat disappointing opening season in Paris in which he managed to muster just four goals and eight assists for a side consistently favourite in the French football odds, Pastore hasn’t been as important a member of the PSG side as he would have liked. After a modest first half of the season in Ligue 1, Pastore opened his account for the campaign with the opening goal in his side’s 3-1 League Cup victory against Bordeaux.
Paris St Germain midfielder Blaise Matuidi has admitted he is still keen to agree fresh terms at the club despite talk over a new contract continuing to drag on. The tough-tackling France international has been linked with a move to the Premier League since the summer, with the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea closely monitoring the situation at PSG.
There are a number of Premier League clubs in the market for a midfielder of Matuidi’s calibre, and current Betfairfavourites Manchester City reportedly in the lead to sign the Frenchman if no new deal at PSG is agreed.
While speculation in France suggests a deal is close, with Matuidi set to prolong his stay in the capital until 2018, the 26-year old has admitted he doesn’t know for certain whether he’ll sign a new contract with the current Ligue 1 champions, who are firm favourites with Betfair to defend their title this season. PSG know they need to move quickly, well aware that Matuidi will be free to discuss pre-contract terms with interested parties in the new year.
The France international claims ‘anything can happen’ from this point, but has insisted he would be more than happy to stay in Paris if a suitable offer is put to him in.
“I am really at ease at PSG. My first wish would be to stay. But you can wish for something and sometimes it doesn’t happen,” said the former Saint-Etienne star.
“The club has a special place in my heart, but anything can happen in a career.”
Matuidi has been an ever-present in the PSG side this season, playing a key role in the club’s sensational start to the season that sees them odds on favourites with Betfair to retain the title. The midfielder has also managed to establish himself as an important part of the France side that clawed their way into next summer’s World Cup, and Matuidi will be hoping to be on that plane to Brazil next year.
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