Trouble in Paris: Neymar demands PSG chief sell Cavani

Star strikers' row over penalty-taking duty shows deepening rift

Money can't buy you much love, it seems.

All is not well in the dressing room of Paris Saint-Germain, which had just splashed the cash last month to bring in world-class strikers Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.

A row over penalty-taking duties between Neymar and Edinson Cavani during Sunday's 2-0 win over Lyon has escalated into a feud that is threatening to split the team.

Neymar, who cost a world-record 222 million euros (S$358 million) from Barcelona, had even told the club to sell Cavani, according to reports in Spain.

The Brazilian has delivered an ultimatum to PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi.

During the match, Neymar had tried to take the ball from Cavani when a penalty was awarded.

Cavani kept the ball but had his spot-kick diverted onto the bar by Lyon goalkeeper Anthony Lopes in what was a 2-0 win for PSG.

"Neymar and Cavani argue again," O Dia's headline read, referring to another penalty incident during PSG's 6-2 win over Toulouse on Aug 20 - Neymar's first home game with the French side.

Cavani was PSG's main striker and top scorer last season, bagging 49 goals in 50 matches in all competitions, but tension has been simmering between the duo since Neymar's high-profile move to PSG last month.

A few minutes before the penalty incident, Cavani was getting ready to take a free-kick, but Dani Alves took the ball away and handed it to Neymar, his fellow countryman.

If there is no agreement, I’ll decide. I don’t want it to be a problem for us. PSG coach Unai Emery, on letting Neymar and Cavani to decide who should take penalties

Cavani headed straight to the dressing room after the match while his teammates celebrated on the pitch.

French newspaper L'Equipe reported that the animosity between them escalated in the dressing room after the match, and the pair had to be kept apart by teammates.

Cavani packed his bag and left in a huff shortly after that.

Sport, a Catalan-based publication, reported that Neymar is furious with Cavani. He believes the Uruguayan had attempted to undermine his superstar status guaranteed by Al-Khelaifi.

Neymar also reportedly has the support of the Brazilian camp in PSG - Alves, Lucas Moura and Marquinhos - as well as fellow new signing Mbappe.

Cavani, however, has tried to downplay the controversy.

"These things are created. I don't know why these stories are created," he told Gol de Medianoche de Radio Universal.

"The truth is that these are normal things that happen in football.

"I learnt of the story just now talking with my brother, about people saying that Cavani won't let anyone take penalties and that there's a problem with Neymar. The truth is that there's no problem."

PSG coach Unai Emery has told both players to sort out their penalty-taking duties.

"The penalties are to be taken by a few players, one is Cavani and the other is Neymar," Emery said.

"It takes a gentleman's agreement on the ground on who should take the penalty.

"Afterwards, we will arrange internally for the penalties in future, because I think both are able to score them, and I want the two to take turns.

"If there is no agreement, I'll decide. I don't want it to be a problem for us."- WIRE SERVICES

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