Mauro Icardi

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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.

Inter Milan send Icardi to PSG on loan, with option to buy

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Mauro Icardi’s tumultuous tenure at Inter Milan has, at long last and in the best interest of all involved parties, come to an end. Inter announced on Monday that Icardi has been loaned to Paris Saint-Germain ahead of the European transfer deadline.

[ MORE: Transfer Deadline Day in Europe: Deals galore ]

Icardi will join PSG until the end of the season, at which point Ligue 1 giants have an option to make the deal permanent. The fee agreed between the clubs for a permanent transfer is reportedly $71 million. As part of the agreement between the three parties, Icardi signed a two-year contract extension with Inter that is set to run through the 2021-22 season.

The extension appears to have been a safety net for Inter, should the loan to PSG not work out and the option to buy not be executed. At that point, the 26-year-old Argentine would leave as a free agent in nine months.

[ MORE: Premier League player Power Rankings ]

During his time in Milan, Icardi has fallen out with just about anyone and everyone — from the fans, to teammates, to managers and club executives — involved with the club. On the other hand, he scored 124 goals in 219 games for the club.

Report: Icardi ghosts Monaco, demands return to Inter squad

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The Mauro Icardi situation at Inter Milan has taken another step towards the absurd, as the player has reportedly rejected a transfer to French side Monaco, instead looking to force his way back into the Inter squad for the coming season.

The Italian club has been looking to sell Icardi all summer after their nasty public falling out last season. However, few clubs have been willing to put forth any serious interest until Monaco stepped forward recently hoping for a loan deal, according to reports in Italy.

However, according to both Italian publication La Gazzetta dello Sport and independent journalist Gianluca di Marzio, Icardi has ghosted Monaco, failing to return any of the club’s attempts to reach out to negotiate a deal. With the Ligue 1 transfer deadline approaching on Monday, Icardio’s actions – or lack thereof – has left the French side with little choice but to pursue other options, instead looking to bring on RB Leipzig striker Jean-Kevin Augustin.

Icardi’s refusal to negotiate an end to this saga has left Inter furious, but there’s yet another twist to the story. According to the two reports, the club received an email last night from Icardi’s legal team demanding not just to be admitted back into the Inter first-team, but also upwards of over a $1.5 million in compensation for his forced time away. Icardi was stripped of his captaincy near the end of last season, suspended by the club for February and March before returning in April to finish out the season.

Even if the club were to welcome Icardi back with open arms – a difficult proposition at this point in time – he would have serious competition for his place. Inter clearly planned on moving on from the Argentine this summer, as evident by the arrival of Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez. Fellow Argentine striker Lautaro Martinez is also in fabulous form, breaking in to the Inter first-team during Icardi’s initial absence last season and continuing that form through the summer where he scored a pair of goals in the Copa America.

Mauro Icardi ‘not part of our plans,’ says Inter Milan CEO

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Mauro Icardi’s tumultuous time at Inter Milan might finally be coming to a close after Inter Milan chief executive officer Beppe Marotta revealed that the Argentine is “not part of our plans, with all due respect.”

[ MORE: Man United “in the process” of selling Paul Pogba ]

With a full rebuild already taking place under new manager Antonio Conte, Icardi’s long overdue departure from the club now seems only a matter of when, not if. Marotta left it in no uncertain terms and also cast aside midfielder Radja Nainggolan — quotes from Football Italia:

“When building a project, you have to find the right profiles. We had the opportunity to speak to the players themselves, with full respect for their contractual situations, but explained the position of the club, which I think is the most important thing.

“Both players know full well they are not part of our plans. That doesn’t mean we doubt their talent or capabilities, as I consider them to be two excellent players.

“Talent can win you games, but the squad wins you the league, which is the main objective we are setting out for. They are not part of our project, with all due respect.”

[ MORE: Barcelona president says Antoine Griezmann talks underway ]

Icardi is said to come with a price tag of nearly $70 million, which leaves only a handful of clubs with the financial means to sign him. The most likely scenario is that Icardi remains in Serie A, with Juventus and Napoli reportedly interested in strengthening their respective squads at the expense of a fellow top-three side.

Transfer rumor roundup: Neymar for Coutinho plus cash? Dembele to Liverpool?

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The rumors are plenty to finish the work week, so let’s dive right into the buzz around the Premier League summer.

The Rodri-to-City reports have been long-running, but that didn’t stop another team from trying a 23rd hour move for the Atletico Madrid midfielder.

Kicker in Germany reports that Bayern Munich tried to swoop into the picture and snatch the player away from Man City, but that Rodri remains sold on working with Pep Guardiola and the Premier League champions.

Barcelona’s hopes of acquiring Neymar for far less than what some say could be a $300 million transfer fee involves a part-swap deal.

AS says that Barca would offer Paris Saint-Germain $100 million plus Philippe Coutinho in exchange for Neymar’s services.

Given Neymar’s injury history and off-field issues, maybe PSG will jump at that and use the $100 million on one of the many players linked with the club this offseason. From Leicester City’s Wilfred Ndidi to Real’s James Rodriguez, that money would be useful.

And Barca is going to be selling any number of players this offseason, but would you believe they’d admit failure in the case of Ousmane Dembele?

Don Balon reports that Liverpool of all teams is ready to spend nearly $170 million on Dembele, giving them at-worst insurance and at-best a replacement for any moves made by Sadio Mane or Mohamed Salah (who are widely reported as happy at Anfield).

Finally, Sky Sports says Inter Milan’s action on Romelu Lukaku could not happen until June 30 when Financial Fair Play sanctions relax on the Serie A unit.

United apparently wants around $90 million for the Belgian striker, while Inter is hoping to spend a little more than half of that figure.

Inter would also, Sky says, have to sell Mauro Icardi and there’s been little interest in the prolific but controversial striker. Not a huge surprise.