- in In Pictures
Paris St-Germain are no strangers to their star men attracting the headlines, and two of their most influential – Neymar and Kylian Mbappe – have taken centre stage in recent days.
Brazil forward Neymar hosted a lavish birthday party in Paris complete with all-white dress code, while France World Cup winner Mbappe and PSG boss Thomas Tuchel had a very public falling-out on the touchline.
BBC Radio 5 Live’s Julien Laurens – who was at the party – and European football expert Guillem Balague discussed PSG’s issues and what the future holds on the latest Euro Leagues podcast.
PSG bosses and Mbappe miss the party… and Neymar’s speech
French football journalist Laurens lifts the lid on who else was at the party and what exactly went on.
Laurens: “It was a busy Sunday night in Paris in one of the posh nightclubs. It was Neymar’s birthday, 28 on Wednesday. There was around 300-400 people, the whole PSG squad were invited, a lot of Neymar’s Brazilian friends, actors and surfers, his big entourage. He has lots of friends and family, his agent and all of that.
“Also people like [Lyon forward] Memphis Depay, it’s not often you see a rival club coming to the party of a big star of a rival club. What I love about Memphis on the night was he wearing designer wellies, just the £1,200 worth. I suspect they are very good wellies and they were all white. Memphis, with a little twist with his wellies, he managed to colour some bits in. It was pretty cool.
“We could not take pictures, only one picture of the PSG players. The players left just before 1am and the whole party finished at 3am.
“Just before 12, Neymar had a little speech. It was really good and felt really sincere. He said he felt finally happy in Paris, which we know has taken time to really settle and seeing how much he loved Barcelona it was a big thing to admit he was happy there.
“Last year, if you remember, the dress code was red and he was on his crutches because he was injured. It was a big thing this year he was not injured and he was able to really enjoy the night.
“Tuchel and [PSG sporting director] Leonardo were not there. Tuchel expressed his view he was not overly happy about the party happening on a Sunday night and there being a match on the Tuesday night. He thought it didn’t reflect well on the team and the club. Mbappe decided to go to Disneyland Paris.
“But, hey, its Neymar, the club’s best player, one of the best in the world, for that they could do a little infringement of the rules, I guess.
“This is my club. I have been a bit critical of Neymar at times and we all agreed he didn’t always have the best attitude and it took him to time to settle.
“Now a very different time, at the moment I only have love for him.”
‘Let Neymar do his thing’ after showboat booking
In the 5-0 thrashing of Montpellier on Saturday, Neymar was given a yellow card by the referee for showboating.
Julien: “The showboating incident led to another clash between Neymar and the fourth official. He said ‘this is crazy’. Neymar has a point, the ref should ref.
“He is intelligent enough to know if he showboats there is a risk the opponent thinks he is taking the mick. He has been doing it all his life. No-one should tell Neymar how to do his job.”
Balague: “If he was a Brazilian ref he would say please showboat some more. It’s a cultural reference, and somebody saying to him just calm down with this showboating.
“He probably thought he was looking after Neymar but just let him do his thing. That is what he is about.”
Are Barca going to re-sign Neymar?
Neymar has scored 66 goals in 76 games for the Ligue 1 club since his arrival from Barcelona for a world record fee in 2017, including 15 in 18 this season. Speculation over a return to the Nou Camp has persisted for some time and the Catalan giants are expected to try again this year.
Balague: “Barcelona are preparing to convince Neymar, he is the big target in the summer and the message they are getting from the Neymar entourage is, ‘yes, try it, we would be happy to accept that’.
“Just because he has never been happier in Paris, doesn’t mean he is really, really happy.
“Barcelona are counting on a 180m euros price tag, which is something they reckon they can afford.”
Julien: “Neymar will have two years left on his contract this summer, so interesting to see what position PSG adopt. They would have been happy for him to leave in the summer.
“He has had highs and lows, when he has been playing he has been excellent. A debate in France right now, is he the best player we have ever seen in the French top-flight history? Better than all the players we have had – Ronaldinho, Ibrahimovic, Platini, etc.
“When he has been playing he has been great – 180m euros would be a fair price.”
‘Tuchel or Mbappe? I don’t need to tell you who PSG will pick’
Mbappe is the second-highest scorer in Ligue 1 with 14 goals, coming at a rate of one every 89 minutes. But he had a very public confrontation with boss Tuchel after being brought off with over 20 minutes remaining in Saturday’s game against Montpellier, with the pair since holding a clear-the-air meeting.
Laurens: “After 68 minutes, Mbappe was clearly not happy to be subbed off again. It was not the first time and not the first time he has reacted badly to being taken off. When you are 21, a World Cup winner, superstar, the next best thing behind Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo… but you can’t react that way anyway.
“Tuchel misjudged it, instead of letting Mbappe sulk on the bench, he tried to have a word and that was a bad idea. From Mbappe sulking it became a confrontation for up to a minute in front of the whole world. Mbappe and Tuchel with hands over the mouth having a heated exchange.
“At the meeting on Sunday morning, Mbappe did not apologise. He admitted he overreacted but didn’t apologise. He feels like Tuchel is treating him like an under-19 player and Tuchel is saying I have a squad to manage, whether you are happy or not, I don’t care. They cleared the air but didn’t really clear the air because they both stood firm on their position.
“Mbappe wants to play every minute of every game. He wants to win the Olympics after winning the Euros. You can’t do that even if 21, you can’t play every second for club and country. Tuchel has a point there.
“On Tuesday all eyes were on Tuchel and Mbappe and he played the whole game. At half-time they had a chat on the touchline. It looked like it was all fine, but you know it’s not. You don’t want to see this two weeks before a big Champions League match against Dortmund.
“The debate we are having is will it come to down to Tuchel or Mbappe and I don’t need to tell you who PSG will pick.”