Sunday’s PSG-Lille fixture only gets more enticing from a neutral perspective with the deterioration of Neymar and Mbappé’s relationship.
Two of the world’s greatest players on one of the most expensive and lavish teams cannot see eye to eye. Despite the fact that PSG won its first two games in Ligue 1 play, scoring 10 goals in the process, the drama is at a boiling point.
Now, PSG enters its most important game of this young season against a Lille side that tends to force a good game from the most dominant side in France. Even then, the focus of that fixture is less so on the competition, and more so on the drama involving PSG’s two men up top.
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Mbappé – Neymar feud takes head at PSG
It starts from the order of penalty kicks at PSG. In last matchday’s game against Montpellier, PSG won a penalty, which Kylian Mbappé stepped up to take. The keeper saved, but PSG won another penalty later in the first half. This time, Neymar assumed control of the ball, and he slotted it home.
Different penalty takers in one game is nothing new. What is, however, is the manner in which Kylian Mbappé reacted to Neymar taking the ball. Of course, this is not all on Kylian Mbappé’s immaturity as a leader for PSG. Neymar stirred the pot after the game. The Brazilian international liked a tweet from a fan account claiming “because of the contract, Mbappé is the owner of PSG.” That, of course, relates to Kylian Mbappé’s lucrative new contract at PSG. Rumors swirled that this effectively put the French World Cup winner in charge of the club’s sporting project.
While Kylian Mbappé states he is nothing more than a player, Neymar’s social media antics do not help in quelling their disgruntled behavior. However, Kylian Mbappé clearly sees himself as the leader of the club. Fair enough, as he is the youngest, a local to Paris and is the future of the club’s plans for over a decade.
However, if he is to embrace the role of a leader, his on-field drama must stop.
Frustration with teammates
Players complaining about penalty kick order is a common occurrence. However, Mbappé’s reaction to not receiving a pass in that same Montpellier game is something to note. As PSG advanced the ball forward, Vitinha, a new arrival for the Parisians, dribbled the ball forward towards the right side of the field. Mbappé, occupying the left wing, saw the play developing along the right side. The Frenchman cast his arm in the air, effectively giving up on the play.
The case can be made the Mbappé wanted to amend his penalty miss earlier in the game when he requested the ball from Neymar. However, casting aside the progression forward because the ball does not come to you is a bad look for any player, particularly one set to be club captain in the future.
This frustration with the play and the previous annoyance with Neymar led to an altercation after the game. According to a number of outlets, Sergio Ramos had to step in because Neymar and Mbappé brought their quarrel into the PSG dressing room.
Remember, this is following a 5-2 win at home, not a narrow loss where one of these players made a mistake. In fact, Mbappé still scored in this game, even if it was the fourth goal. Perhaps he does not like being in the shadow of both Neymar and Lionel Messi. Neymar felt the same way at Barcelona, leading to his move to the Parisian club back in 2017.
Leading into Lille
Is PSG going to transfer one of these players out? No. Mbappé just signed a lavish new deal and PSG already tried to sell Neymar to no avail. The Brazilian wants to stay at PSG and likely re-establish himself at the top of the pecking order. That applies to both the penalty order and the fanbase.
However, there is a civil war brewing in Paris. Lionel Messi, the last part of the attacking trident at the Parc des Princes, likely takes the side of Neymar. The two are close friends going back to their successful run at Barcelona. According to the Mirror, Mbappé is frustrated that Messi took Neymar’s side, despite the Frenchman believing that his Brazilian teammate lacks discipline and a sense of leadership.
If the Montpellier game is any indication, that is a trait that applies to both Neymar and Mbappé.
Now, PSG hits the road again, only it comes against a top French side. Lille struggled last season as they competed in European competition. However, with a sole focus on the league, the northern club wants to return to the upper-echelon of Ligue 1. In a perfect world, that means a second league win in the last four seasons.
Neymar and Mbappé need to put away their differences, and quickly, to ensure that does not happen.
PHOTO: Aurelien Meunier – PSG/PSG via Getty Images
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