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Mbappe, Neymar reportedly won’t try to leave PSG

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Two of the world’s brightest attacking stars look set to stay in Paris for another season, says ESPN.

Kylian Mbappe and Neymar will not angle to leave Paris Saint-Germain in the summer despite big money interest from Real Madrid, who is in the market to spend big on some Galacticos to play with Vinicius Junior.

[ MORE: PL Player of Year candidates ]

The report says Financial Fair Play concerns will dictate a number of sales, with Giovani Lo Celso, Jese Rodriguez, Grzegorz Krychowiak, Thomas Meunier, Layvin Kurzawa, and Christopher Nkunku speculated as possible exits.

Meanwhile, AS reports that PSG is interested in Antoine Griezmann should it get a suitable bid for either Mbappe or Neymar.

It would make some sense for PSG. At 27, Neymar has been fabulous while healthy but has missed long stretches of each of the last two seasons with injury.

Les Parisiens could replace him with Griezmann, a French World Cup hero, who carries a $226 million release clause which AS says will not be negotiated by Atletico Madrid. How much more would Neymar cost Real than that? He went for around $254 million in 2017.

How much different will PSG look next year? Adrien Rabiot seems certain to leave the Parc des Princes, and Meunier is the only player mentioned by AS getting serious minutes under Thomas Tuchel.

What seems more likely is PSG sell its superfluous pieces and put a focus on developing its young players in Ligue 1 play with Neymar, Mbappe, Cavani, and Marco Verratti focusing their eyes on the Champions League

Di Maria brace seals 3-1 win for PSG over Marseille

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Kylian Mbappe and Valere Germain bracketed the halftime whistle with last-minute/first-minute goals, but Angel Di Maria’s second-half brace proved the difference as Paris Saint-Germain topped Marseille 3-1 to restore its 20-point Ligue 1 lead and leave the visitors exposed in the Champions League race.

Marseille came into the match in good form, unbeaten in its last six matches with five wins in that span, but they were no match for Di Maria who had a hand in all three goals. Mbappe opened the scoring at Parc de Princes in first-half stoppage time with a clinical fastbreak, finishing off a feed from Di Maria that pushed the Frenchman to the left, but no matter as he calmly slotted the ball inside the far post to break the deadlock.

The visitors earned a lucky equalizer just 24 seconds after the break as Valere Germain picked up the goal, with both his strike and Lucas Ocampos’s assist were deflected before reaching its destination. From there, Di Maria took over for his first multi-goal game of the season.

His first came in the 55th minute via a mistake at the back from Hiroki Sakai who stepped to a ball and allowed Di Maria to get free down the right, and he produced a low finish from a very tight angle to put PSG in front.

From there, Marseille fell a man down as goalkeeper Steve Mandanda came nearly 40 yards out of his net to challenge Di Maria on a breakaway, and in his sliding challenge, the ball struck his outstretched hand, leaving the referee no choice but to send him off. Just three minutes later, Di Maria put the game away with an unbelievable free-kick from at least 25 yards that found the top-right corner.

The performance moves Di Maria to nine goals and 10 assists for the season, leaving him one goal away from a season double-double that only Eden Hazard and Lionel Messi have achieved among the top five European leagues.

Zidane: I can count on Bale, Isco at Real Madrid

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Zinedine Zidane says he’s not going to talk about other team’s players, except that he’s also going to talk about them… vaguely.

The recently rehired Real Madrid boss (say that five times fast) was asked about the possibility of his side splashing mega cash to bring Kylian Mbappe and Neymar to the Bernabeu on the heels of this three-manager disappointment of a season.

[ MORE: Analyzing the UCL draw ]

“I’m not going to talk about a player that isn’t mine,” Zidane explained, via Marca.com. “What I can tell you is that those two players have a lot of quality.”

He went on to say that one of those players, and he wouldn’t name names, was young and French and an absolute monster. We’re kidding, but you get the joke.

Zidane named out-of-favor Isco and Marcelo back in his squad, as Real hopes to stop the rot and build for next season because, well, he cannot have any other aims.

Real is 15 points back of Barcelona with neither an El Clasico nor a Madrid Derby on his fixture list. It’s also 10 points clear of fifth place, so qualifying for Europe isn’t a worry, and Real has already been dismissed from the Copa del Rey and UEFA Champions League.

Yes, it’s all very, very weird.

Zidane says he’s going to “count on” Isco and Gareth Bale, who haven’t had their usual seasons for Los Blancos, saying specifically of the Welshman:

“I’m not going to speak about Bale’s season up to this point. There are 11 matches left to play and I’m going to count on him. I’m going to repeat myself a lot here, but Gareth is ready to play.”

Ligue 1: Mbappe scores two more for PSG before Man Utd visit

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CAEN, France (AP) Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe rescued a 2-1 win at Caen for the runaway French league leader to avoid embarrassment on Saturday before Manchester United’s Champions League visit.

Mbappe scored twice for the second league match in succession to take his tally to 24 goals in 21 games in the competition, his 87th-minute winner helping PSG open a 20-point lead over Lille.

Thomas Tuchel’s side can now turn attention to United’s trip on Wednesday, when the French team will defend a 2-0 lead from the first leg of the last-16 tie.

Mbappe has scored in all five domestic league games since PSG lost forwards Neymar and Edinson Cavani to injury, and the 20-year-old’s second-half double in Caen took him to 53 goals in the league since bursting on the scene with Monaco three years ago.

He was already the youngest player to reach 50 league goals in French league history.

But PSG was given a fright by plucky Caen, which is fighting relegation. The visitors were shocked when Casimir Ninga fired the home side ahead early in the second half.

The goal frames had seen plenty of action in the first half. PSG defender Layvin Kurzawa set the tone when he struck the crossbar in the third minute and Enzo Crivelli was similarly denied at the other end.

Marquinhos then struck the crossbar again for PSG, and Angel Di Maria’s effort was deflected by Caen keeper Brice Samba onto the post.

Ninga scored in the 56th minute when he took Faycal Fajr’s free kick on his thigh before dispatching the ball past Alphonse Areola and inside the far post with his next touch.

The lead only lasted three minutes, Mbappe equalizing with a penalty.

Di Maria had the next chance, again striking the post, before Mbappe came to the visitors’ rescue when he stabbed home the rebound after Samba parried Thomas Meunier’s initial effort.

Both the late games finished 2-2. Radamel Falcao scored twice in the second half, one a penalty, as Monaco drew at Angers to stay unbeaten since Leonardo Jardim returned to take charge, while Amiens drew at Reims.

PSG chairman not worried about Mbappe, Neymar suitors

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Don’t call PSG. They’ll call you.

Paris Saint-Germain chairman Nasser El-Khelaifi says the club will not be selling Neymar or Kylian Mbappe this summer despite rumors of mega bids from Real Madrid.

[ MORE: Leicester fires Puel ]

“Neither Real Madrid, nor any other club in the world, needs to call us about Neymar or any other player,” said El-Khelaifi.

His comments go a step further when asked whether he fears clubs coming after PSG’s brightest gems.

From Marca.com:

“They should be the ones that are worried because the best players in the world of tomorrow live in Paris, a city they love, and they play for PSG, Europe’s most modern club, which fits their ambition and their image.”

PSG leads Ligue 1 by 17 points and their UEFA Champions League tie with Manchester United by a 2-0 score after the away leg at Old Trafford.

Perhaps the better question for El-Khelaifi is what will Neymar and Mbappe feel there is left to accomplish if PSG outlasts the competition to win the club its first UCL crown?