For weeks now, a cloud has hung over the PSG dressing room. Despite powerful performances on the pitch, including a 7-1 smashing of Lille, there is trouble at the top.
Two of the most promising young talents in world football are at odds with each other, when they should be blending their skills together to make truly beautiful football. Here is what you need to know about the biggest grudge match in French football: Neymar v Mbappe.
Paying the Penalty
Paris Saint-Germain has become a victim of its own success and largess with this petty penalty feud. Two of the biggest players in Europe, the brightest stars in the Parisian sky, have fallen out with each other over the penalty taking order.
PSG’s dream of seeing these two players combine on the pitch and set goalscoring records could be in tatters. Boss Christophe Galtier seems to have backed Neymar in the argument, but taking sides is probably a mistake.
This hasn’t hurt PSG’s chances of winning Ligue 1. The bookmakers still favour them to win, with bet365 Norge giving them odds of 1/25; a 96% probability. Their dominance in their domestic league is not the issue though. Paris Saint-Germain needs all its firepower fully functional if they are finally going to mount a serious challenge for the Champions League.
Sergio Ramos Blocks a Challenge
The feud began earlier this month in the match with Montpellier. Mbappe has seen his first penalty saved and wanted to take the second when it was awarded, but Neymar stepped in. From his perspective, Mbappe took his opportunity earlier and now it was his turn. He has a point.
The atmosphere between the pair in the dressing room was so tense that defensive legend and former captain of Real Madrid, Sergio Ramos, has to take action. He prevented the pair from physically clashing.
This led to a first-team meeting where both players were reprimanded by the boss for letting things go too far, and Mbappe was told that it was Neymar’s pen. Though both players apologised to the manager and their teammates, the relationship between the two is still frosty.
Mbappe Has Problems with Messi Too
Reports from the backrooms of the Parc des Princes suggest that Neymar is not the only big name that Mbappe has problems with. He and Lionel Messi have never really clicked on or off the pitch, and Messi backed Neymar in the dispute, and allegedly took time to tell Mbappe as much.
Kylian Mbappe’s poor relationships with some of his most important teammates are a danger for PSG, both on the field and off. When he signed a three-year contract extension this summer it reportedly contained a clause that gave Mbappe influence in the club’s major sporting decisions.
His close friendship with the club’s new sporting director, Luis Campos, goes back to their days together at Monaco. Mbappe could start flexing his muscles in the boardroom to influence team selections and contract extensions of his foes.
Until Mbappe calms down and feels his rightful place at the top of the pecking order has been restored, things are going to get worse. If PSG is going to challenge for every trophy, this needs fixing.