Kylian Mbappe

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Report: Neymar, PSG hoping to secure new deal

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Neymar’s future has been a topic of heavy conversation this winter, with reports through the holiday season that Barcelona will once again court their old superstar come summer.

However, it’s now entirely possible that Paris Saint-Germain looks to ward off interest in the Brazilian by presenting him with a new contract, hoping to lock him down for the foreseeable future. While that won’t happen imminently, ESPN’s Julien Laurens reports that the two parties are optimistic about locking things down once talks begin.

Laurens reports that, while there is interest on both sides – notable given Neymar’s reported attempts to push his way out of Paris last summer – talks will not begin until April or May, after the club’s Champions League fate is clearer.

PSG has long coveted a spot among the Champions League elite, and it’s no secret that Neymar’s PSG tenure will be considered a success or failure largely by their progress in European’s top competition. Should they once again be eliminated early in the knockout rounds, it’s possible that one or both parties change their stance on a long-term commitment.

With his current deal set to expire in the summer of 2022, Laurens reports that “informal talks” have been held between PSG sporting director Leonardo and Neymar’s father, who serves as part of the Brazilian’s representation. While those discussions are a necessary first step, there is still a very long way to go before anything becomes more concrete. Laurens also mentions that agent Pini Zahavi, who was instrumental in Neymar’s initial move to PSG, remains close with Leonardo and will no doubt be a key figure in any potential new deal.

Neymar struggled earlier this season with hamstring problems, but he has always been deadly when on the field for PSG. He has 11 Ligue 1 goals in 12 appearances, including at least one goal in each of the team’s last six league games, plus five assists in that span as well. He was also excellent in the 5-0 Champions League win over Galatasaray to finish out group stage play, and scored a goal in the 6-1 drubbing of St. Etienne in the Coupe de la Ligue.

Laurens also reports in the article that Kylian Mbappe is facing a similar situation, with his deal also expiring in the summer of 2022 and waiting to see how the team fares in Champions League play before making a decision. However, Mbappe reportedly already has a concrete offer on the table and is simply waiting to make a decision.

PSG drew Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League Round of 16, with the first leg of that matchup set to take place on February 18. PSG has never progressed past the quarterfinal of the competition, and has been knocked out in the Round of 16 in each of the last three seasons.

Mbappé enjoys turning 21 with 2 goals as PSG routs Amiens

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PARIS — Kylian Mbappe celebrated turning 21 with a silvery-looking haircut and two more clinical finishes as league leader Paris Saint-Germain beat struggling Amiens 4-1 on Saturday.

It was a familiar sight as the lightning-fast France star with his new dyed hair – after his birthday on Friday – latched onto a long pass from Neymar and adroitly clipped the ball over the advancing goalkeeper.

Mbappe has been involved in 15 goals in his last 12 league games – 11 goals and four assists – and his partnership with Brazil star Neymar continues to flourish.

Neymar danced in front of the home fans after tapping home from close range early into the second half. Mauro Icardi’s effort was blocked and the loose ball rolled kindly across to Neymar.

Angel Di Maria then set up Mbappe with a clever reverse pass down the right, with Mbappe drilling a low shot into the corner in the 65th.

However rampant in attack, PSG remains prone to lapses in concentration at the back and Colombian forward Steven Mendoza was left unmarked when he pulled a goal back five minutes later.

Icardi has been in prolific form since joining on a season’s loan from Inter Milan and notched his ninth league goal in only 11 games, showing his usual dexterity when sliding to the back post to volley in a cross from the left with minutes remaining.

The win kept PSG seven points clear of second-place Marseille heading into the mid-season winter break. PSG has played one game less and has a vastly superior goal difference.

Marseille enjoyed a comfortable 3-1 home win against 19th-place Nimes for a sixth win in seven games. Midfield schemer Dimitri Payet was involved in all the goals – and in another disallowed goal – after a tight first half.

Nimes players were exasperated not to get a penalty on the stroke of halftime, following a video review after center half Duje Caleta-Car appeared to impede Sofiane Alakouch.

Alakouch inadvertently sent the ball into his own net in the 47th after sliding to stop a cross from the right from reaching Payet.

Marseille then had a goal ruled out by VAR after Payet’s deflected shot from the edge of the penalty area clipped striker Dario Benedetto, who was in an offside position.

Benedetto’s next effort stood as he volleyed into the roof of the net from close range in the 66th, after midfielder Morgan Sanson’s saved shot from Payet’s pass bounced up invitingly to him.

Payet got an ovation when he was substituted soon after his well-struck goal in the 82nd. Payet was one of France’s best players at the European Championship in 2016, but then lost his place.

With Euro 2020 looming, he is pushing for a return to coach Didier Deschamps’ squad and has four goals and three assists in six games.

The French league resumes on Jan. 10.

OTHER MATCHES

Striker M’Baye Niang’s late goal gave Rennes a 1-0 home win against Bordeaux and moved it two points above Lille into third place.

Lille was routed 5-1 away to Monaco, despite Nigeria striker Victor Osimhen’s 10th league goal of the season giving Lille a 14th-minute lead.

The prolific Wissam Ben Yedder grabbed two second-half goals to take his league-leading tally to 13 – two more than Mbappe.

Nantes is two points behind Lille in fifth spot after losing 2-1 at home to Angers.

Midfielder Ludovic Blas celebrated his goal after a shot from outside the penalty area in the 18th. Goalkeeper Ludovic Butelle clumsily spilled what was otherwise a comfortable shot to stop.

Midfielder Antonin Bobichon leveled for Angers in the 51st and Algerian striker Farid El Melali pounced late on.

Lyon was missing top scorer Memphis Depay and attacking midfielder Jeff Reine-Adelaide to serious knee injuries sustained last weekend, but still took an early lead at sixth-place Reims through midfielder Lucas Tousart.

After midfielder Mathieu Cafaro leveled from the penalty spot for Reims in the 44th, striker Moussa Dembele missed a late penalty for Lyon in a 1-1 draw.

Center forward Gaetan Laborde netted twice as ninth-place Montpellier easily beat Brest 4-0.

Headers from Malang Sarr and Hicham Boudaoui put 10th-place Nice 2-0 up inside 20 minutes at home to last-place Toulouse, and a brilliant curling shot by midfielder Pierre Lees-Melou. also in the first half, made it 3-0.

Saint-Etienne slumped to a fifth defeat in the last seven games overall, losing 2-1 at 11th-place Strasbourg.

Dijon midfielder Romain Amalfitano’s first league goal since January 2016 was worth the wait in a 2-2 home draw with Metz. As the ball dropped on the edge of the penalty area he struck a superb volley into the bottom corner to equalize moments after Senegal striker Habib Diallo’s 10th of the season gave Metz a 15th-minute lead.

Metz had a player sent off in the second half but earned a point thanks to Habib Maiga’s injury-time goal.

Champions League wrap: Mbappe, Neymar on fire; Atleti, Atalanta advance

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The UEFA Champions League’s Round of 16 contestants are confirmed after Atletico Madrid and Atalanta made sure only teams from the top five leagues in Europe made the jump.

[ RECAPS: D. Zagreb 1-4 Man City | Bayern 3-1 Spurs ]

What does that mean for the four Premier League sides? Here’s who they can draw.

As for a recap of Wednesday’s action and some fun highlights, read on…

Club Brugge 1-3 Real Madrid

All the goals came in the second half here, as Rodrygo and Vinicius Junior scored before Luka Modric rounded out the markers in stoppage time. Hans Vanaken scored for the Belgian set, which again used Simon Mignolet between the sticks knowing Galatasaray could’ve passed them with a win.

Olympiacos 1-0 Red Star Belgrade

Longtime Moroccan striker Youssef El-Arabi scored the lone goal as the Greeks moved into third place and a Europa League spot.

Shakhtar Donetsk 0-3 Atalanta

The Serie A side surged past their Ukrainian hosts, who saw star right back Dodo sent off. Three different players scored for the visitors, with Mario Pasalic and Robin Gosens leading the way. Timothy Castagne scored Atalanta’s first goal.

Paris Saint-Germain 5-0 Galatasaray

Kylian Mbappe and Neymar each had a goal and two assists, while Mauro Icardi, Edinson Cavani, and Pablo Sarabia also scored for the hosts.

Atletico Madrid 2-0 Lokomotiv Moscow

Lokomotiv keeper Anton Kochenkov pushed a Kieran Trippier penalty off the post in the first few minutes of the contest, but Joao Felix converted Atleti’s second chance from the spot as Diego Simeone’s team handled its business to reach the Round of 16. Felipe scored the side’s other goal via a Koke assist.

Bayer Leverkusen 0-2 Juventus

Atleti would’ve made it through anyway, as Bayer couldn’t spring an upset on group winners Juve. Cristiano Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuain scored the goals in Germany.

UCL wrap: 4-goal Lewandowski just unfair; PSG comes back at Real

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Real Madrid, Tottenham Hotspur, and Manchester City joined Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich, and Juventus in the knockout rounds at the conclusion of Tuesday’s action in the UEFA Champions League.

[ RECAPS: Man City-Shakhtar | Spurs-Olympiacos ]

Paulo Dybala scored a gorgeous goal, PSG erases a 2-goal Real Madrid lead in 3 minutes, and Robert Lewandowski is currently the best center forward on Earth.

Read on…


Red Star 0-6 Robert Lewandowski Bayern Munich

Robert Lewandowski only had an assist in Bundesliga play this weekend, so you kinda figured something special was headed to Serbia.

Red Star Belgrade trailed 1-0 at the break when the powerful Polish forward took control with a haul of four goals (Corentin Tolisso scored the sixth marker).

This man is insane. It takes a lot to put up a UEFA Team of the Year worthy performance in a world with Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Kylian Mbappe (Lewandowski has never claimed a First Team spot), but look at these numbers in all competitions:

20 matches
27 goals
1 assist

So selfish. Ten of those goals have come in five UCL matches, as he’s scored multiple times against every team in the group.

Real Madrid 2-2 Paris Saint-Germain

A thriller here, with controversy to boot.

Karim Benzema completed a brace in the 79th minute to put the hosts, seemingly, in control of the match.

Unfortunately for the Bernabeu, it was just cruise control and PSG tapped the brakes via two goals in four minutes.

Kylian Mbappe — who else? — made it 2-1 in the 81st and Pablo Sarabia scored an incredible strike in the 83rd. Gareth Bale smashed the post with a gorgeous free kick in stoppage time, and the game ended at 2.

It could’ve been much worse for Real despite the blown 2-goal lead, as a red card to Thibaut Courtois was removed via VAR due to a touchy foul on Idrissa Gana Gueye in the build-up.

Juventus 2-0 Atletico Madrid

It takes a lot to break down a Diego Simeone defense. This, however, will do the trick. Paulo, Paulo, Paulo Dybala had himself a moment on a day.

Too hot for the keeper’s hands, apparently:

Galatasaray 1-1 Club Brugge

Amazing stuff at the end, and not just because Krepin Diatta scored a point-winning equalizer in the second minute of stoppage. Diatta was shown a second yellow card for taking off his shirt, while teammate Clinton Mata was shown a second yellow as well for snapping the corner flag pole with a celebration.

WATCH that here.

Elsewhere

Atalanta 2-0 Dinamo Zagreb
Lokomotiv Moscow 0-2 Bayer Leverkusen

Ligue 1: PSG lost again, this time to last-place Dijon (video)

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Paris Saint-Germain suffered its third defeat of the still-young Ligue 1 season on Friday, a 2-1 disaster away to previously last-place Dijon, once again putting manager Thomas Tuchel under increased pressure.

[ MORE: Liverpool fixture congestion presents serious conundrum ]

Now, if only there was a club in a position to pounce upon PSG’s early-season struggles, their monopoly on the Ligue 1 title might actually be in jeopardy. Alas, even with defeats in exactly one-fourth of the season’s first 12 games, they enjoy an eight-point lead at the top. Nantes, Lille and Reims are the only clubs with a single-point deficit.

While French giants like Marseille, Monaco and Lyon would typically be waiting in the wings should PSG falter, those three clubs currently sit seventh, 11th and 13th in the league table, respectively, all at least 11 points off the leaders’ pace.

[ MORE: Erling Braut Haaland drawing scouts from more than 20 clubs ]

PSG went ahead after 19 minutes, courtesy of Kylian Mbappe’s fifth league goal (in just seven appearances) of the season. They didn’t make it to halftime with the lead intact, however, as Mounir Chouiar pulled the hosts level in the fifth minute of first-half stoppage time. PSG hardly recovered during the break, as they conceded less than two minutes into the second half, with Jhonder Cadiz scoring what turned out to be the winner.

After scoring twice on Friday, their 12th game of the season, Dijon have now scored seven goals on the season. The victory moves them out of the cellar and into 18th place, where they now occupy the relegation playoff place instead of an automatic relegation spot.