Thomas Tuchel

Getty Images

Tuchel keeps hammering Neymar’s PSG exit narrative

Leave a comment

Thomas Tuchel just can’t let it go.

It seems like as long as the Paris Saint-Germain manager keeps getting Neymar questions, he’s going to keep talking about the past rather than move on.

Ahead of PSG’s Champions League opener against Real Madrid, for which Neymar will be sidelined due to suspension alongside the injured Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe, Tuchel reiterated his idea that Neymar will be jeered by pretty much everyone this season, even his own fans.

“He did not want to be here. He tried everything that was in his power [to leave the club],” Tuchel told DAZN (via BeIN Sports) prior to the match. “That did not help make him popular. You could feel that and I can understand it, if the crowd are angry, even permanently.”

This follows up Tuchel’s comments following Saturday’s last-gasp win in Ligue 1 play over Strasbourg. After Neymar’s spectacular stoppage-time winner to earn PSG a 1-0 result, Tuchel said that every match the Brazilian plays will be “like an away game” for him.

We know Neymar wanted to leave, the player himself confirmed as much and we’ve been hearing about it for months. It’s somewhat surprising that Tuchel continues to double- and triple-down on this narrative instead of insisting the media move on. Managers can strongly control the narrative surrounding their players, and if Tuchel refuses to talk any more about Neymar’s desire to leave, he can somewhat squash the talk around his unhappiness, at least until the winter picks up. Neymar isn’t even able to play in the club’s first three Champions League group stage matches due to his suspension, so the fact Tuchel is even addressing Neymar while previewing the club’s upcoming European match is surprising in and of itself.

Tuchel did admit that he appreciates Neymar’s demeanor now that the saga is over with for now. “Nevertheless, there is also a side between me as a coach and him as a player,” Tuchel said. “There was never a break or a discrepancy. That’s why it was very easy for me to let him play. He has always trained professionally. I feel that the decision was a relief to him, even though it fell against his wish.”

“He has to withstand it now, that’s the reality. He has to go through, we have to go through all in the home games a bit. The best thing is to come to terms with it.”

Ligue 1 wrap: Mbappe, Cavani limp off in PSG’s 4-0 Neymar-less win

Photo by Mehdi Taamallah/NurPhoto via Getty Images
3 Comments

PARIS (AP) After being involved in one of the most comical moments in European football last season, striker Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting distinguished himself with a fine goal and scored a second as Paris Saint-Germain beat Toulouse 4-0 in the French league on Sunday.

The resounding win came at a price, however, as PSG forwards Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe, clutching the back of his left leg and grimacing, limped off.

PSG coach Thomas Tuchel said the players will have tests Monday to determine the extent of their injuries.

Despite being match fit, record signing Neymar remains unavailable as he seeks to push through a move away from the club – a situation which appears increasingly exasperating for Tuchel.

“Today was the occasion (for him to play) … it’s certain he could have played today,” Tuchel said in French on Canal Plus television. “It’s not a clear situation and it should be clear.”

Tuchel then went as far as to suggest he has little or no say as to whether Neymar can play against Metz on Friday – just days before the transfer window shuts.

It was Choupo-Moting, then, who replaced Cavani in the 13th minute and he will not enjoy many nights like this.

Receiving a pass from Angel Di Maria, the Cameroon striker burst into the penalty area, span around with one touch to move inside two defenders and drilled the ball into the bottom left corner with the next touch in the 50th minute.

It was only his fourth goal in 23 league games since a surprise move from unheralded English side Stoke last season.

In April, Choupo-Moting was widely mocked on social networks for an extraordinary passage of play in a 2-2 home draw against Strasbourg. Amid disbelieving looks from teammates, he somehow prevented a goal for his team despite the ball being about to cross the goal-line, gently nudging the ball onto the post before it was cleared by defenders.

He was only on the field on Sunday night due to an injury to Cavani, who limped off with what appeared to be a leg muscle injury. Midway through the second period, Mbappe left the field after appearing to hurt his hamstring.

After a first half in which Mbappe missed good chances, Choupo-Moting’s opener was a welcome breakthrough. Five minutes later, it was 2-0 when Toulouse defender Mathieu Goncalves turned Pablo Sarabia’s cross into his own net.

Goncalves was harshly judged to have conceded a penalty soon after, slipping over in the area and powerless to stop Sarabia’s cross hitting his left arm. Referee Jerome Brisard still gave it, despite a video review. With Cavani injured and Neymar absent, Di Maria took the spot kick and saw his effort well saved by goalkeeper Baptiste Reynet.

Choupo-Moting confidently drove home a cross from left back Juan Bernat in the 75th and Brazil defender Marquinhos headed in Di Maria’s corner from the left late on for the fourth goal as PSG climbed up to third place with six points – three points behind leader Rennes.

Lyon can move back top on goal difference with a win at Montpellier on Tuesday.

OTHER MATCHES

Rennes won 2-0 at Strasbourg.

Confidence was high after last Sunday’s 2-1 home win against PSG, and goals from midfielder Clement Grenier in the first half and powerful center forward M’Baye Niang soon after the break made it nine points from three games.

Monaco, meanwhile, is still seeking its first win after drawing 2-2 at home to Nimes.

New signings Wissam Ben Yedder and Islam Slimani scored to put Monaco 2-0 up at halftime.

But after Brazilian defender Jemerson’s 55th-minute sending off, Nimes hit back through midfielder Romain Philippoteaux and 18-year-old forward Kevin Denkey.

Jemerson was shown a yellow card for a tackle from behind on Philippoteaux, but the referee changed it to a red following a video review.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Mbappe ‘admires and respects’ Neymar, wants him to stay at PSG

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Kylian Mbappe has spoken out in support of current teammate Neymar amid rumors flying of the Brazilian’s discontent at Paris Saint-Germain.

With Neymar reportedly wanting out of PSG and hoping to force a move, Mbappe has gone public in the hopes of convincing his teammate that a move is unnecessary to achieve his goals.

“He has a situation that everyone knows,” Mbappe said with the team in Shenzen, China where they are preparing to face Rennes in the Trophee des Champions, confirming what all fans could tell about the Brazilian’s unhappiness. “Of course I want him to stay. I spoke with him. He knows what I think of him and his situation. Everything is going well between us. We have a relationship based on honesty and respect. He knows that I respect him and that I admire him.”

Neymar has rejoined the squad for the event after missing nearly all of preseason, looking to rest his ankle injury but also push his way out. He cannot participate in the match, however, as he is suspended after his outburst against a fan in the aftermath of the Coupe de France final loss than ended last club season.

“When Neymar trained, he was excellent, in form. He had plenty of quality, like always,” PSG boss Thomas Tuchel said when speaking to the media. “Everything was great yesterday. Neymar is in good spirits. It’s unfortunate that he’s suspended because it would have been good to have him with us.”

PSG extends manager Thomas Tuchel through 2021

Getty Images
Leave a comment

No wonder Thomas Tuchel was in such a jovial mood regarding his job security yesterday.

Paris Saint-Germain announced on Saturday that it has handed manager Thomas Tuchel a one-year contract extension, pushing the expiration of his contract to the summer of 2021. The addition extends his initial two-year deal he signed last summer when he joined the club after leaving Borussia Dortmund.

The news is somewhat surprising given that Tuchel had come under fire for PSG’s struggles down the stretch of the season, first with the club’s elimination from the Champions League in the Round of 16, and then for the failures down the stretch of the domestic campaign. It took weeks to formally clinch the league title as the team skidded through April, and the club fell to Stade Rennes in the final of the Coupe de France. Still, according to a number of reports, the deal was signed back in March making the end to the season irrelevant.

The German boss was able to joke about his future after PSG’s season-ending defeat to Stade de Reims on Friday, laughing at reporters who asked about his job security heading into the summer, “Honestly, I am worried… I get the impression that everybody knows something that I do not!”

Less than 24 hours later, news of his extension was official. “The entire Paris Saint-Germain family is delighted to see Thomas Tuchel extend his contract ,” said PSG chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi. “For a year now, Thomas has been bringing fantastic energy every day, not only to players, but to the entire club.”

Ultimately, PSG won the Ligue 1 crown handily, ending the season with a 16-point cushion. The first half of the season was an unmitigated success, starting the league season on a 14-match winning streak and not suffering a single loss until early February. They also performed well in the Champions League, losing just once in a very difficult Group C that featured Liverpool, Napoli, and Red Star Belgrade. The costly slip came against Manchester United where they fell 3-1 in the second leg at home despite a 2-1 first-leg advantage.

Tuchel’s extension also comes with its head-scratchers, as the German was critical of club hierarchy after Friday’s defeat. He hit out at the front office for allowing Neymar to leave the club early to join up with the Brazilian national team, with the 27-year-old suspended for the final match of the year. “No, Neymar has not been released,” Tuchel said when asked about Neymar’s absence from the squad. “In any case, he has not by me. It is not a sporting thing, so I do not know. You will have to ask the club.”

“Correct, this season has had its problems,” Tuchel continued later. “The goal moving forward has to be to stay more focused. That goes for the team, as well as the club. We must be stricter and pull in the same direction to achieve our goals.”

Ligue 1: PSG, Lille stumble to finish line

Associated Press
Leave a comment

Paris Saint-Germain’s late-season stumble came to a final conclusion on Friday as the Parisian giants lost to Stade de Rimes 3-1 on the road to close out the Ligue 1 season.

Kylian Mbappe scored in the 59th minute, but it wasn’t enough to overcome Baba Rahman, Mathieu Cafaro, and Pablo Chavarria all who found the back of the net for the hosts. The loss marks PSG’s third in the final seven weeks of the season, and fourth in the last 10. They had not lost a single league match all season until a 2-1 result against Lyon in early February, the first of five eventual league defeats.

PSG finished the year 16 points atop the league table, but having wrapped up the title weeks ago, the club’s poor finish to the year could weigh on Thomas Tuchel’s job security moving forward. Tuchel responded to continued questions about his precarious position with a joke, saying, “Honestly, I am worried… I get the impression that everybody knows something that I do not!”

Still, the bright spot was Mbappe’s goal, his 33rd of the league campaign, the most for any Frenchman in the domestic top-flight since 1966.

Elsewhere, second-placed Lille saw an eight-match unbeaten streak come to a close as they fell on the final day of the season to Stade Rennes by a 3-1 scoreline. Loic Remy scored a 35th minute equalizer for Lille but Ismaila Sarr’s 59th minute strike proved the difference, while M’Baye Niang’s second of the day – a 75th minute penalty – added icing on the cake. Still, Lille’s season is considered an unabashed success, finishing 16 points back of PSG and three above third-placed Lyon to qualify for the Champions League group stage.

Lyon saw victory on the road to close out the season thanks to a 91st minute winner from Tanguy Ndombele who gave the visitors a 3-2 win at Nimes. A second goal from Maxwel Cornet had brought Lyon level just two minutes prior, and Ndobele’s near-post flick on a Leo Dubois cross completed the comeback win. They finish safely in third, ending the season on a six-game unbeaten streak with five wins in that span. Two games in early April – losses to 20th-placed Dijon and 15th-placed Nantes – likely cost them a shot at second place.

Monaco is safely in the top flight next season, but barely, as they fell at Nice 2-0 on the final day to finish just two points above the relegation zone. They finish with just one win in the final nine matches, and were saved by a seven-match unbeaten run through February and March that 15 of their 36 points on the season.

Marseille finished the season with a 1-0 win over Montpellier thanks to a 58th minute Florian Thauvin strike, but it wasn’t enough as St. Etienne finished five points clear in fourth on 66 points, with Marseille on 61 in fifth, missing out on a Champions League place.