Cavani plays down Neymar spat

Neymar keeps Lyon midfielder Lucas Tousart (left) and forward Nabil Fekir at bay during Paris Saint-Germain's 2-0 victory on Sunday. PSG boss Unai Emery says he will intervene only if the Brazilian and Edinson Cavani cannot sort out their differences
Neymar keeps Lyon midfielder Lucas Tousart (left) and forward Nabil Fekir at bay during Paris Saint-Germain's 2-0 victory on Sunday. PSG boss Unai Emery says he will intervene only if the Brazilian and Edinson Cavani cannot sort out their differences when it comes to deciding who will take penalties.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

PSG stars argue over penalty as tensions surface, but Uruguayan maintains there is 'no problem'

RIO DE JANEIRO • Brazil's media on Monday dubbed the spat between Paris Saint-Germain stars Neymar and Edinson Cavani over who should take a penalty kick during their victory against Lyon "a war of egos".

Newspapers in Brazil, always hungry for Neymar news, dived into the tussle in which the recently signed PSG superstar tried to take the ball from his Uruguayan team-mate on Sunday. Cavani kept the ball but had his shot saved in what was ultimately a 2-0 win in Ligue One.

"Neymar and Cavani argue again," O Dia's headline read, referring to another penalty incident during PSG's 6-2 win over Toulouse on Aug 20 - Neymar's first home game with the French side after moving from Barcelona.

"The result allowed Neymar's team to remain leaders but what caught the attention was the poor understanding between the Brazilian and Cavani," O Globo daily said.

Ledio Carmona, a commentator for Sport TV, which broadcasts Ligue One games, said Neymar risks estranging himself from his new team-mates if he keeps "playing selfishly". "This... shows an overly individualistic side. If other situations like this happen, the situation could degrade," he told AFP.

Globoesporte.com went further, saying egos were at the heart of the matter. "It's clear these two players don't get on," the site said.

  • 5

    Goals Neymar has scored in all competitions for PSG.

    9

    Goals Edinson Cavani has scored so far, three of which came from the spot.

French sports daily L'Equipe also said on its front page on Monday: "This victory has exposed tensions between Neymar and Cavani."

The incident occurred when PSG were leading 1-0 at the Parc des Princes and they won a penalty with 10 minutes remaining for a foul on Kylian Mbappe, who was making his home debut.

Having already scored three times from the spot this season, Cavani assumed the responsibility would once again be his.

Neymar tried to get the ball from the Uruguayan but it was Cavani who eventually took it. And his effort was brilliantly saved, Anthony Lopes tipping the ball onto the bar.

"The penalties are taken by a couple of players; one is Cavani and the other is Neymar. There needs to be a gentleman's agreement on the pitch to decide who takes the penalties," coach Unai Emery admitted later.

"We will sort things out internally for the next time, because I think they are both capable of taking them, and I want the two of them to mix up who takes them."

Cavani himself tried to play down any rift, telling Uruguayan radio this kind of thing happened all the time in football.

"I don't know why people believe these stories. The truth is there's no problem at all," he told Uruguay's Radio Universal.

However, Neymar has reportedly unfollowed Cavani on Instagram, suggesting that their relationship could be turning a little sour.

The "MCN" front line of Mbappe, Cavani and Neymar has cost the club €466 million (S$753 million) and the trio have scored eight goals between them in their first two matches together against Metz (5-1) and Celtic (5-0).

But Sunday's match was less encouraging, with none of them on the scoresheet.

PSG have not slipped up yet, winning all six of their league games so far, but Emery has plenty on his plate when it comes to the dressing room.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 20, 2017, with the headline 'Cavani plays down Neymar spat'. Print Edition | Subscribe