Paris Saint-Germain may have won the Ligue 1 title by a wide margin, but the close to their season has been a total disaster, and it took its biggest hit yet on Saturday.
PSG fell to Stade Rennes on penalties in the Coupe de France final after a 2-2 draw, failing to win the competition for the first time since 2014.
The favorites had gone 2-0 up before the half-hour mark on goals from Dani Alves and Neymar, but a Presnel Kimpembe own-goal coming off a Hamari Traore started the comeback just before halftime, and Edson Mexer headed in the equalizer off a 66th minute corner.
A key moment came late in extra time when Kylian Mbappe was sent off for a horrible studs-up challenge into the lower leg of Damien Da Silva, leaving the PSG star unable to participate in the shootout. Goalkeeper Alphonse Areola failed to stop any of the six Rennes penalties in the eventual shootout and Christopher Nkunku skied his effort to confirm the result.
After the match, Neymar was caught on camera in an altercation with a Rennes fan as he made his way up the steps during the postmatch presentation, appearing to hit the fan in the face before storming off to follow his teammates. The match was Neymar’s second back from a lengthy injury layoff, and his first since it was confirmed he would be suspended for three future Champions League matches for an Instagram tirade after the club’s elimination a few weeks ago.
The failure to secure the domestic cup is the latest failure in what has been a brutal finish to the season. The slide began when PSG coughed up a 2-0 first-leg lead to fall to Manchester United in the Champions League quarterfinals back in early March. Then, despite a monstrous 20-point lead in the Ligue 1 table, they stumbled down the stretch in league play, stumbling through a three-match winless slide before finally confirming their champion status with a win over Monaco last time out.
Manager Thomas Tuchel, who has come under more fire with every passing slip, said after the loss on Saturday he would need time to think over his future. “It is too early to evaluate the season, Tuchel said after the match. “I need a few days to think. It is a complicated situation.”
Our latest Premier League player Power Rankings have landed.
[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]
Matchweek 16 followed a similar pattern to recent weeks as players from Liverpool, Leicester City, Spurs and Man United dominated our top 20 with so many games played over the last seven days.
Remember: this is a list of the top 20 performing players right now in the Premier League. If they didn’t play in the last matchweek, they aren’t getting in this list!
[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]
Let us know in the comments section below if you agree with the selections.
1. Jamie Vardy (Leicester) – Even
2. Heung-Min Son (Tottenham) – Up 7
3. Marcus Rashford (Man United) – New entry
4. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) – New entry
5. Harry Kane (Tottenham) – Up 6
6. Jonjo Shelvey (Newcastle) – New entry
7. Jonny Evans (Leicester) – New entry
8. Sadio Mane (Liverpool) – Down 4
9. Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton) – New entry
10. Danny Ings (Southampton) – New entry
11. Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Man United) – New entry
12. Virgil Van Dijk (Liverpool) – Down 2
13. Caglar Soyuncu (Leicester) – Even
14. Dele Alli (Tottenham) – Down 11
15. Kevin De Bruyne (Man City) – Down 10
16. Raul Jimenez (Wolves) – Down 3
17. Christian Pulisic (Chelsea) – Down 1
18. Anthony Martial (Man United) – New entry
19. Diogo Jota (Wolves) – New entry
20. Nicolas Pepe (Arsenal) – New entry
Who else could it be? Christian Pulisic has been named the USMNT player of the year for 2019.
[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]
The Chelsea star, 21, excelled for club and country over the past 12 months and after taking a few months to settle into life in England, he’s now taking the Premier League by storm on a weekly basis.
Pulisic has now won this award for a second time after first winning it in 2017 and he becomes the youngest player in U.S. men’s national team history to win the award twice.
His achievements over the last 12 months are numerous, as he dragged a struggling USMNT to the 2019 Gold Cup final and also became the youngest player to reach double figures in goals for the USMNT.
Carson, Calif. (AP) Veteran midfielder Sacha Kljestan has signed with the LA Galaxy as a free agent.
[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]
The 34-year-old U.S. national team contributor officially returned to his native Southern California on Wednesday.
Kljestan has scored 49 goals over 10 MLS seasons in a career that began as the fifth overall pick by defunct Chivas USA, the Galaxy’s former stadium partners. After a successful five-year stint with Belgium’s Anderlecht, he spent the past five seasons with New York Red Bulls and Orlando City.
The Huntington Beach native also has made 51 appearances for the U.S. team, playing in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Kljestan will provide veteran leadership for a Galaxy roster in transition after the departures of its top two goal-scorers: Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Uriel Antuna.
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports
On the face of it, this move makes perfect sense for everyone concerned. Especially Liverpool, who get a bargain.
Multiple reports state that the Premier League leaders are in advanced talks to sign Japanese winger Takumi Minamino from RB Salzburg.
[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]
Minamino, 24, has a release clause of just $9.5 million and it has been reported that he will move to Liverpool in January with talks going well over a five-year contract.
RB Salzburg sporting director Christoph Freund confirmed talks are ongoing about the transfer, with Bayern Munich and Marseille also said to be interested in signing the tricky winger.
“I can confirm that there are talks with Liverpool at the moment. It is an honor [for us] to see the caliber of clubs who are interested in our players.”
Minamino’s goals, pace and trickery pushed Salzburg to within one game of reaching the UEFA Champions League knockout rounds and he impressed against Liverpool in both games in the UCL group stage as he scored at Anfield and gave their defense plenty of problems in the return game. His skillset would perfectly suit the way Liverpool play with his direct running, pace and nose for goal seemingly perfect for Jurgen Klopp‘s side.
With Klopp and his RB Salzburg counterpart Jesse Marsch hugging on the sidelines after Liverpool’s win in Austria on Tuesday, plus Klopp’s kind words on the job the American coach is doing at Salzburg, it’s safe to say there’s a strong connection between the two teams and their styles of play are very similar.
That’s an even better reason for Minamino to head to Liverpool as the Japanese star would slot in seamlessly and he would become the third former RB Salzburg player at the Reds alongside Naby Keita and Sadio Mane.
From the style of play of both player and the club, to the small transfer fee, this works out very well for everyone involved. Even Salzburg will be happy to become known as a feeder club to Liverpool and Europe’s other big boys as that will help them with their future recruitment.