Paris Saint-Germain chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi has offered Edinson Cavani €1 million to let Neymar take penalties in a desperate attempt to restore harmony to the club’s fractured playing staff.
That’s according to a sensational exposé in Spanish newspaper El País, which claims the South American stars’ dispute over spot-kick duties is merely the tip of the iceberg of the French club’s dressing room acrimony since Neymar’s summer arrival.
It all began in early August when UEFA announced they would be investigating PSG for a potential breach of Financial Fair Play following the Brazilian’s €222 million transfer from Barcelona.
European football’s governing body are understood to have notified the club that if found guilty, they could be excluded from European competition for several years, a threat which is said to have panicked Al-Khelaifi to such an extent that a number of players were immediately put up for sale in a hasty bid to balance the books.
That list of players is understood to have included such influential figures as Thiago Silva, Ángel Di María, Blaise Matuidi (who was sold to Juventus), Serge Aurier (who was sold to Tottenham Hotspur), Javier Pastore and Julian Draxler.
Matuidi’s sale, in particular, is believed to have caused a sense of collective resentment towards the board from the players, who were made to feel like they were mere commodities to be shipped out in order to make way for Neymar.
El País claim a degree of friction has existed between Neymar and his new team-mates since his very first training session with the club. Al-Khelaifi and Antero Henrique, the club’s sporting director, are said to have treated Neymar like a deity and he has responded in kind, acting with an arrogant sense of superiority towards his fellow players.
Thiago Motta and Thiago Silva – the club’s two captains – have tried to act as the squad’s mediators but Neymar’s only true dressing room ally is thought to be his good friend Dani Alves.
PSG’s season began in fine style on the pitch but the tension among the players came to a head during the 2-0 victory over Lyon last week when Neymar and Cavani were seen squabbling over free-kicks and penalties.
Part of the reason behind the disagreement is understood to be the fact the club’s top goalscorer will net a €1m bonus at the end of the season.
El País say Al-Khelaifi has offered, via an intermediary, to pay Cavani the €1m whether or not he finishes as top scorer but the Uruguayan – who earns half of Neymar’s salary despite being the club’s second highest paid player – is said to have flatly rejected the offer on the basis it is not about money but the principle of the matter.
When told of Cavani’s decision, Neymar is reported to have reacted angrily and subsequently sat out Saturday’s trip to Montpellier with a foot injury, as PSG dropped their first points of the season.
Last Thursday, in an attempt to smooth things over, Dani Alves invited the club’s players and staff out to dinner at a restaurant in the swanky 16th arrondissement of Paris.
According to El País, an unnamed attendee said the atmosphere around the table was like that of a funeral.
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