Julian Draxler

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Neymar-less PSG needs extra time to beat third-tier side (video)

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Paris Saint-Germain, like a lot of good teams, seems to be unbeatable for long stretches before hitting vulnerable patches.

Most of those patches, though, don’t involve losing to a team two leagues beneath you.

[ MORE: Man City favored by oddsmakers ]

PSG needed extra time to get past FC Villefranche-Beaujolais in the Championnat National, France’s third-tier, posting a 3-0 win Wednesday in the Coupe de France Round of 16 at the Stade Armand Chouffet.

Julian Draxler broke Villefranche’s resolve with a 102nd minute goal, with Moussa Diaby and Edinson Cavani adding markers before the final whistle.

Villefranche did not record a shot on target and was out-attempted 23-6, while Cavani and Kylian Mbappe started the match on the bench.

PSG is also without Neymar for the next two months and lost its unbeaten Ligue 1 mark at the weekend with a 2-1 loss at Lyon. It has a 10-point lead on second-place Lille and two matches-in-hand.

Ligue 1: PSG win title after crushing defending champs Monaco 7-1

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PARIS (AP) Paris Saint-Germain won the French league title after beating defending champion Monaco 7-1 on Sunday, with the crushing victory highlighting the obvious gulf between the two teams this season.

Monaco meekly surrendered the title that it had won so impressively last season, doing little to prolong the suspense. It was losing 4-0 after 28 minutes as PSG easily did enough for a fifth title in six seasons and a seventh overall. PSG leads second-place Monaco by 17 points with five rounds remaining.

Midfielder Giovani Lo Celso and winger Angel Di Maria scored two goals each, while league top scorer Edinson Cavani grabbed his 25th of the season.

PSG captain Thiago Silva’s header went in off Radamel Falcao — Monaco’s top scorer — for PSG’s sixth goal before Germany winger Julian Draxler netted the seventh.

Ligue 1: PSG return to comfort zone, thrash Strasbourg

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PARIS (AP) After falling short in the Champions League, Paris Saint-Germain returned to its French league comfort zone and beat Strasbourg 5-2 on Saturday.

Edinson Cavani netted twice, and Julian Draxler, Angel Di Maria, and Neymar also scored to ensure PSG stayed 12 points clear of second-place Monaco at the top.

But not without a fright.

Strasbourg took the lead in the sixth minute and pulled back to 3-2 as PSG continued to show alarming signs of weakness at the back. Strasbourg had a late goal incorrectly ruled out for offside after PSG’s defense was again easily breached, although it was already 5-2 by then.

PSG lost at Real Madrid 3-1 on Wednesday in the first leg of the last 16. The way PSG capitulated by giving away two late goals heaped pressure on coach Unai Emery over his team selection.

“The atmosphere was a bit tense. That’s normal,” Cavani said. “We have to look forward now. We played well today, although at times we could have been better.”

Emery was booed by sections of the home crowd when his name was announced over the loudspeaker before the game. Later, Cavani stopped short of giving Emery his personal backing when asked if the under-fire coach has the full support of the players.

“We’re a team and big teams stick together in the important moments,” Cavani said. “That’s the only way you can win.”

Strasbourg beat PSG at home in December, and stunned the crowd at Parc des Princes by taking the lead when midfielder Jean-Eudes Aholou was left completely unmarked near the penalty spot.

PSG hit back hard and was 3-1 up after 23 minutes thanks to Draxler, Di Maria and Neymar’s 19th in 19 league games.

Stephane Bahoken scored against PSG for the second time this season after a quick counterattack. Strasbourg poured forward but the hope didn’t last for long.

Cavani gave PSG some breathing space with an assured finish in the 72nd, clipping the ball over goalkeeper Alexandre Oukidja, then lobbed him for his league-leading 23rd goal.

“It was important to win after Wednesday’s match. We have to get our fans ready for the games to come against Marseille (next weekend) and Real Madrid,” Emery said. “We have to show we can maintain this level of play against better sides, with all due respect to Strasbourg.”

To celebrate Chinese New Year, PSG players’ names were written in Mandarin on the back of their shirts and a Chinese dragon paraded around the pitch. PSG says it has 1.3 million Chinese followers.

In order to better serve the soccer market in Asia, the league match between Nice and PSG on March 18 has been moved forward to 1 p.m. local time (1200 GMT).

Marseille players will also have their names in Mandarin for Sunday’s home game against Bordeaux at Stade Velodrome. Marseille recently launched an account on Chinese social media site Weibo.

Striker Giovanni Sio’s second-half equalizer gave Montpellier the point it needed to take fifth place after drawing with Guingamp 1-1.

Two goals from newly signed striker Diafra Sakho gave Rennes a 2-2 draw at Caen, which missed two penalties.

Saint-Etienne won at Angers 1-0, Troyes beat last-place Metz 1-0, and Amiens drew with Toulouse 0-0 in another relegation scrap.

In Sunday’s other games, fourth-place Lyon goes to Lille, and Nice hosts Nantes.

Report: Alexis Sanchez, Julian Draxler in swap deal

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It appears Arsenal may have found a solution to saving some face when it comes to Alexis Sanchez.

The Chilean forward, 28, has just over six months to run on his current Arsenal deal and it doesn’t seem likely that he will sign a new contract at the Emirates Stadium.

With that in mind, a report from the Daily Star suggests that the Gunners are lining up a swap deal with Paris Saint-Germain for their German attacking midfielder Julian Draxler in January.

That’ll work.

Draxler, 24, has been a long-term target for Arsenal and although impressing for the German national team in recent years (he captained a young side to Confederations Cup success over the summer) the Schalke product has found it tough to break through at PSG with Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Edinson Cavani now on board.

The only problem with this deal is that from January 1 onwards Sanchez can speak to any non-English club about a free transfer on July 1 and he can arrange a move himself. That means that if he wanted to join PSG he could agree a deal for the summer, play out the season at Arsenal and then join the French giants on July 1 with a huge signing-on bonus.

But if, as expected, Sanchez wants to go to Manchester City he will have to wait until July 1 before he can negotiate a move to the Etihad Stadium and join up with Pep Guardiola. The thing is, he will be quite free this summer to do that as Chile failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

Arsenal are said to not want Sanchez to join a Premier League rival in Man City (despite accepting a $70 million bid late on Transfer Deadline Day in the summer) but even if they did sell him in January they’d do well to get around $35 million for the former Barcelona star.

When it comes to Draxler, the report states that Bayern Munich also want the midfield and although his numbers in terms of goals and assists aren’t as impressive as Sanchez’s, he does have more power and pace than most of Arsenal’s other current midfield options, as well as possessing the poise to create chances and possess the ball. He seems every bit an Arsenal player.

PSG using Draxler as the bait to try and entice Arsenal to not ask for any cash in January is all about one thing: stopping Sanchez from joining Man City in July. When you think about it, this deal would work out best for PSG and Arsenal with the Gunners picking up an international caliber attacker four years younger than Sanchez and PSG getting yet another star forward without spending a penny on him.

Arsenal keen on Sanchez, Draxler swap?

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It appears Arsenal may have a solution to the Alexis Sanchez dilemma.

With the Chilean forward yet to sign a new deal at the Emirates Stadium and his contract running out at the end of this season, that means from January he can agree to join a club outside of England on a free transfer on July 1, 2018.

However, the Daily Star say the Gunners want to swap Sanchez for Paris Saint-Germain’s Julian Draxler in January.

That could suit everyone concerned but would PSG really do this deal knowing that Sanchez would be available for nothing a few months later?

Draxler, 24, is probably worth over $75 million in today’s market and he is a key part of the future of the German national team. However, with Neymar, Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe starting every game at PSG, his opportunities in his favored attacking midfield role seem limited. He has come off the bench in four of his eight appearances for PSG this season.

The German star has been linked with a move to Arsenal in the past (‘who hasn’t Arsene Wenger nearly signed?’ I hear you cry. Fair point) and he certainly represents a stress-free solution compared to Sanchez.

Despite his brilliance — his backheel assist against Brighton on Sunday was sublime — Sanchez’s time at Arsenal appears to be up and this deal would save Arsenal some face if they received a German international in return.

But again, why would PSG do this deal? Well, let’s say they make the UEFA Champions League knockout rounds, which is highly likely. Sanchez (who has only played in the Europa League this season) would then be available to help Neymar, Cavani, Mbappe and Co. push for the European title in the second half of this season.

According to UEFA rules, Sanchez could be registered to play for PSG in the knockout rounds under Article 44:

44.01 For all matches from the start of the round of 16, a club may register a maximum
of three new eligible players for the remaining matches in the current
competition. Such registration must be completed by 1 February 2018 (24.00CET)
at the latest. This deadline cannot be extended.

44.02 One player from the above quota of three who has been fielded in a UEFA club
competition group stage match for another club in the current season may
exceptionally be registered, provided that the player has not been fielded:
a. in the same competition for another club; or
b. for another club that is currently in the same competition.

Again, this deal could work for everyone.

PSG would get another high-earner off their wage bill with an impending UEFA investigation into Financial Fair Play rules. Draxler would be a star at Arsenal and is five years younger than Sanchez. Alexis Sanchez could challenge for Europe’s biggest trophies.

And Arsenal would wipe a little more egg off their face after a deadline day $90 million deal for Sanchez to move to Manchester City (with Thomas Lemar arriving at Arsenal from Monaco) fell through.