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PSG issues Neymar injury update; Silva claims Marseille targeted star

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Pretty heavy charges lay at the feet of Marseille midfielder Dimitri Payet, as PSG announced that Neymar has a sprained ankle and broken metatarsal.

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The Paris Saint-Germain captain claims that Payet and his teammates aimed to hurt Neymar in the lead-up to the seemingly innocuous exchange that ultimately sent the megastar off the field on the stretcher.

His basis? Silva says Payet told the referee as much:

“It’s a shame. Payet said to the referee that he wanted to hurt. That is not football.”

French radio station RMC claimed Payet told referee Benoit Bastien: “Tell Neymar to calm down or we are going to take care of him.”

Now Neymar’s injury came without contact — typically worse for the severity of the injury — and after he snuck his studs onto Bouna Sarr’s leg, but there’s no question the Brazilian was being hunted (There’s embellishment in the below video, but also clear tactical fouling).

PSG plays Marseille again on Wednesday in the French Cup before a league match at Troyes and a first leg with Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League.

PSG respond strongly to reports of Thiago Silva’s mental weakness

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Paris Saint-Germain strongly supported captain Thiago Silva after reports in French publication L’Equipe suggested that the Brazilian’s injury problems are not as serious as the club has made them out to be.

According to the often explosive French newspaper, the 32-year-old defender missed the pummeling of Barcelona not because of a calf bruise but was because he was “frozen with fear” ahead of one of the biggest games of his life.

“It’s hard to say if he’s injured,” said an unnamed source L’Equipe referred to as a “regular at the training center.” “Medical examinations did not show much. It looks as though he has tensed up at the approach of the event.” L’Equipe is known for its harsh words and even harsher match ratings, and occasionally seems to embellish otherwise routine stories.

PSG responded with an exclusive in Brazilian newspaper Globoesporte, saying, “Thiago Silva was injured after the Ligue 1 clash with Lille [on February 7th],” the statement from the French champions read. “The diagnosis was heavy bruising on his left calf — he did not play against Bordeaux the week before the Champions League match at home to Barcelona.”

“Thiago Silva is our captain, the man of great games, who is always there through the difficult times and is appreciated by the staff and his teammates. Everyone at the club is shocked by the doubts some have expressed about his motivation.”

The L’Equipe claim doesn’t seem to hold much water. Thiago Silva is an experienced Brazilian international and has played Champions League matches against clubs like Real Madrid, Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal, and even Barcelona twice in the 2014/15 campaign, which both times resulted in a 3-1 loss. He is also known to be injury prone, with the club even pointing out that after the unsuccessful World Cup in 2014, Silva returned to the club early to help them start the season, only to result in an injury in doing so.

After the Lille match where he picked up the injury, Silva missed the following Ligue 1 meeting, a trip to Bordeaux which PSG won 3-0. The article went on to say that the injury is severe enough to keep Silva out of the next Ligue 1 match, a home date with Toulouse, and he is expected to return for the trip to Marseille on February 26th. That would theoretically see Silva fit enough to play in the second leg against Barcelona on March 8th.

Without the captain on the field, manager Unai Emery instead was forced to pair an incredibly young duo of Marquinhos (22 years old) and Presnel Kimpembe (21 years old) in central defense, the latter of whom made his Champions League debut. With the help of successful midfield cover in Adrian Rabiot, he two held Lionel Messi, Neymar, and Luis Suarez scoreless in the 4-0 demolition.

PSG cruises past Bastia in Julian Draxler’s Paris debut

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Paris Saint-Germain obliterated SC Bastia 7-0 in a thorough victory that saw Julian Draxler mark his debut with a goal and saw PSG into the Coupe de France quarterfinals.

The 23-year-old German, having just moved from Wolfsburg a week ago, came on in the 42nd minute for an injured Adrian Rabiot and he scored the final of PSG’s goal glut.

Draxler ended as one of seven different goalscorers for the Parisians, who saw Rabiot, Thiago Silva, Christopher Nkunku, Thiago Motta, Lucas Moura, and Angel Di Maria also mark the day with scores. Rabiot’s was especially impressive, a thumper from acres outside the box that caught Bastia goalkeeper Thomas Vincensini napping.

The only negative to the match for PSG was that both Rabiot and Silva went off injured, an unfortunate turn for the Ligue 1 favorites, as they are especially thin at central defense, so a lengthy spell on the sidelines for their captain Silva could be of some concern.

The win was impressive, and sees them head back into league play on a high. PSG will next play a tough league match against 7th placed Stade Rennais on Wednesday. The Parisians sit in third position, five points back of leaders Nice.

PSG captain Thiago Silva unhappy at level of squad information leaked

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Paris Saint-Germain has been up and down on the field so far this season under new boss Unai Emery, but the real struggle may come off it.

In light of a number of reports concerning the dressing room situation, PSG captain Thiago Silva has voiced his displeasure at the amount of inside information that has been leaked to the press in recent weeks, suggesting a fellow player may be responsible.

“What is said in the dressing room must stay there,” Silva said to journalists in the mixed zone after Saturday’s league win at Nancy. “It is incredible so much of this sort of thing gets out in the press. Maybe it is a player who speaks with you [the press], maybe it is somebody else. Either way, it isn’t smart.”

Emery was appointed with the expectation that things would change from the lackadaisical environment that pervaded the club under former boss Laurent Blanc. However, the club leaks have proven anything but. A report by L’Equipe claimed a meeting with players prompted a formational shift by Emery that proves the players still cling to some form of power. Silva dismissed it by saying, “Speaking is important, as well as listening; doing this makes progress.”

However, with the managerial change this summer prompting ownership to claim the move would bring about a “cycle of change,” the club and fans alike will be none too pleased that it seems little has truly been amended from one managerial reign to the other.

PSG returns to Champions League action midweek with a visit from Basel, and they host struggling Olympique Marseille next weekend.

Transfer news: Man United want James; Chelsea seeking reinforcements

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If you believe the reports — and maybe you shouldn’t — Manchester United remain the most desperate club in the world just dying to spend another cool $100 million on one or two superstars, on top of the $350 million or so they’ve already spent with Louis Van Gaal at the helm. Today, it’s Real Madrid attacker James Rodriguez to whom the Red Devils are linked, by the Express, for a fee of nearly $90 million.

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Updating a rumor from Saturday, Chelsea are now believed to be interested in Paris Saint-Germain defender Thiago Silva this season, on loan, according to the Daily Star. Despite currently holding a 21-point lead in Ligue 1, PSG might be hesitant to send their most experienced defender on loan to the Blues, as the two sides are set to square off in the UEFA Champions League round of 16 next month. The Daily Mail is reporting the Blues’ loan move for Alexandre Pato is also in the works.

Also from the Express, Manchester City are said to be closing in on the signing of Spain under-21 striker Ianki Williams from Athletic Bilbao. Man City are said to be undeterred by Williams’ contract buyout clause of nearly $65 million. Liverpool and Arsenal are reportedly Williams’ other suitors.

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Leicester City’s quest for Champions League qualification continues, as the Foxes once again sit atop the Premier League table with 23 of 38 games played. Rather than selling in January, or simply standing pat, Sky Sport Italia is reporting Leicester are ready to pay $12 million for Sampdoria striker Eder in an attempt to provide proper cover for leading goalscorers Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez.

U.S. national team defender John Brooks is in high demand himself, as Champions League regulars Schalke are said to be lining up the 22-year-old as a possible replacement for Joel Matip, who is reportedly nearing a move to Liverpool.