No Neymar, no problem? No, problem.
Stade Rennes continued to trouble Paris Saint-Germain with a 2-1 comeback win over the defending champions. The visitors struck first as Edinson Cavani pounced on a miserable back-pass from Damien da Silva that left goalkeeper Romain Salin caught out, putting PSG up 1-0 on 36 minutes.
That lead would not last long though as Stade Rennes, who beat PSG in the Coupe de France final at the end of last season and gave them a battle in the in the Trophee de Champions two weeks ago, would bracket halftime with a pair of goals that would win the match.
The first came in the 44th minute as M’Baye Niang rifled a vicious turn-and-shoot into the back of the net to level the score on the stroke of halftime. Not three minutes after the break, a chipped ball into the box found the head of Romain del Castillo who beat Thomas Meunier to the delivery for a headed finish and a 2-1 lead.
Without Neymar, who was left out of the squad for the second match due to uncertainty surrounding his transfer status, PSG was held to just four shots on target as Angel Di Maria and Kylian Mbappe struggled to create chances. PSG completed just six of 23 passes inside the penalty area, including a 1-for-13 performance by the wide duo of Di Maria and Mbappe. French publication L’Equpie awarded both players a “3” for the match in their famously harsh player ratings.
Mbappe and Di Maria, along with Julian Draxler who also turned in a miserable performance, were locked down in part thanks to the fabulous performance of 16-year-old Eduardo Camavinga who got the only “8” handed out by L’Equpie. The young Frenchman put himself on the map with a stunning performance in defensive midfield, completing 40 of 41 passes and assisting the winning goal.
With Philippe Coutinho completing his loan move to Bayern Munich, it’s possible that Neymar finds an opening at his old club Barcelona, but PSG has so far stood firm on wanting the same $246 million they paid for the Brazilian in return for any late swoop. The transfer window closes September 2 for both La Liga and Ligue 1, so any deal would have to be completed by then or Neymar will end up returning to Parc des Princes whether he likes it or not.
Watford may capture one of the rising stars of the game.
Ismaila Sarr would cost the Hornets a club transfer record fee, and Sky Sports says that Watford and Rennes are about $10 million apart.
The Ligue 1 side reportedly wants $34 million for the Senegal national team right wing.
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Sarr, 21, scored a goal and an assist in Senegal’s run to the Africa Cup of Nations final, playing opposite Sadio Mane of Liverpool.
He posted 13 goals with 14 assists last season between Ligue 1, the French Cup, and the Europa League. He was the lone Rennes player to score against Arsenal in the UEL Round of 16.
Watford has held onto Abdoulaye Doucoure and Dodi Lukebakio this offseason. Lukebakio is also a 21-year-old right wing, and had a sensational loan season with Fortuna Dusseldorf in 2019-20.
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.”
Patrick Vieira turned down overtures from Ligue 1 side Stade Rennes in November to stay with New York City FC, according to France Football.
The report says Vieira and recently hired Montreal Impact boss Remi Garde topped Stade Rennes wish list. In Vieira’s case, he allegedly didn’t want to take over a club mid-season and would prefer a job in his beloved Premier League.
Rennes hired former Ivory Coast manager Sabri Lamouchi in early November, after Vieira’s campaign at New York City FC. Garde was hired by Montreal a day after Lamouchi was announced at Rennes.
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Rennes sits 10th in the Ligue 1 table. NYCFC continues to build a team capable of competing for everything MLS has to offer, and Vieira would love to get over on Toronto FC. What’s the right spot for the Arsenal legend’s next managerial steps?
A lot of Arsenal supporters, at least right now, would say Arsenal.