Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar revealed he "spent two days at home crying" after suffering another metatarsal injury.

Neymar is recovering from a foot injury sustained in PSG's Coupe de France clash against Strasbourg last month, with the world's most expensive footballer facing another seven weeks on the sidelines.

The former Barcelona forward suffered a similar injury last February which forced him to miss the remainder of the 2017-18 season.

Discussing his latest setback, Neymar told Brazilian TV channel Globo: "This time I had a tough time getting over it.

"I spent two days at home crying. It's more complicated. 

"The first time I hurt myself I said, 'I'll have an operation, it has to be fixed as quickly as possible'. I wasn't sad."

Before the injury, Neymar scored 13 goals in as many Ligue 1 appearances, while he netted five in the Champions League and a further two in domestic cup competitions.

Nice have punished reported AC Milan target Allan Saint-Maximin for missing Saturday's 3-0 defeat at Angers without permission.

Saint-Maximin, 21, joined Nice in a reported €10million deal from Monaco in August 2017 and has developed well since, becoming a key part of the team.

The forward is highly rated in France and is said to have attracted interest from Milan, Atletico Madrid and Borussia Dortmund, having scored six goals and set up another two in Ligue 1 this term.

But he incurred the wrath of Nice for his absence from the trip to Angers due to an apparent stomach illness, which the club doctor felt should not have prevented him from travelling.

A statement read: "Last weekend, Allan Saint-Maximin missed the trip to Angers.

"In line with the principles of Nice and the board, which place the club above everything else, [coach] Patrick Vieira spoke frankly about the reason for this absence when speaking to the press after the match. 

"The facts being that after returning to full training on Thursday and having been named in the squad, the Nice forward bypassed the protocol in place at the club for illness before a match, by simply sending a message during the night between Friday and Saturday, informing the club of his absence.

"While the team prepared to fly to Angers, he refused to comply with his obligations to be seen by the club's medical staff in order to be judged fit/unfit to travel at the scheduled meeting time.

"Furthermore, his medical issue (stomach pain) did not justify this failure to attend, as the club doctor confirmed with certainty to Patrick Vieira after examining the player at his home address later in the day.

"Called to meet with [chief executive] Gauthier Ganaye and Patrick Vieira [on] Tuesday morning as the players returned to training, Allan Saint-Maximin was reminded of the obligations that apply to all Nice players, then made aware of his punishment. The details of which will remain between the player and the club.

"With the player having accepted this punishment, the Nice board and Patrick Vieira consider this chapter closed. All thoughts and energy will now turn to achieving sporting successes in the final games of the season."

Thomas Tuchel will make a late call on Kylian Mbappe's fitness when Paris Saint-Germain travel to Montpellier on Wednesday.

Mbappe volleyed a superb winner – his 19th goal in 18 Ligue 1 games this season – as the runaway leaders triumphed 1-0 at Saint-Etienne on Sunday.

The absences of Neymar and Edinson Cavani due to respective foot and hip injuries have increased the burden on Mbappe over recent weeks, with the youngster excelling under the responsibility.

Yet, speaking at a pre-match news conference, Tuchel conceded he is wary of over-extending the 20-year-old.

"I have to speak with Kylian Mbappe today and we will decide," Tuchel said, with Cavani and Neymar set to miss out once more, although Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting has recovered from a bout of illness.

"Without so many players, there are not many possibilities to change, the guys who are available, they have to play, and at the same time we have to manage the minutes and not take too many risks.

"But it's not possible for the others to stay in the field for 90 minutes all the time."

Absences are not just hitting PSG in attack, with right-back Thomas Meunier still out due to concussion.

Fellow full-back Juan Bernat received a knock after operating in an unfamiliar midfield role versus Saint-Etienne.

"Juan Bernat may not be there [against Montpellier]," Tuchel explained. "He is a little injured and we cannot take any risk. He received a blow."

January signing Leandro Paredes is unavailable, having signed after the re-arranged clash was originally scheduled to take place, while captain Thiago Silva is suspended.

As such, Tuchel is grateful to have the experience and versatility of former Barcelona and Juventus defender Dani Alves to call upon.

"Alves is a leader who demands the best of everyone, even his coach," he said.

"He has a lot of energy, he never stops. He is a role model."

Tuchel added: "I like to coach players like Dani Alves, [Gianluigi] Buffon] or Thiago Silva. [Angel] Di Maria too – it's a gift, it's good for me to grow up."

Barcelona are beginning to plan for a future without Lionel Messi, although club president Josep Maria Bartomeu believes he will sign another contract.

The 31-year-old's current deal will expire after the 2020-21 campaign and the Barca captain has previously said he would like to return to his homeland with boyhood club Newell's Old Boys.

Messi started his career at Newell's but moved to Barcelona as a teenager, developing into an all-time great of the game with nine LaLiga titles and four Champions League crowns.

Bartomeu remains hopeful Messi can be persuaded to extend his time at the club even further but accepts Barca must have a plan for when the Argentina international moves on.

"We are already thinking about it, but it is a future still far away," Bartomeu said to Le Figaro. "He is a young player, he is 31-years-old, his performance is very good, he plays even better and better, I do not know how he does it!

"He has a contract for two seasons, but I think he will extend his career beyond 2021. But you have to think of young talent. When Messi no longer plays, no one can replace him. It's impossible.

"Behind Messi, there is nobody. Neither in Barca nor anywhere else. The coach of the day will have to think of how the team will play [but] the idea of Barca football will remain the same."

Barcelona have been strongly linked with a move for Paris Saint-Germain's Adrien Rabiot, but Bartomeu denied there has been contact between the LaLiga leaders and the France international.

Rabiot is expected to leave PSG at the end of the season, when his deal expires, with the midfielder not in contention for selection by coach Thomas Tuchel due to the contract stand-off.

"The planning of the club for the next seasons is not yet launched, we will start in March," Bartomeu said of links to Rabiot.

"In addition, Barca always puts the priority on the players of our B team. If we do not find them, we will look for them outside.

"The only sure thing about Rabiot is that on June 30 he will be free."

One player who will be lining up for Barca next season is the Ajax midfielder Frenkie de Jong, with the Netherlands international adding to Ernesto Valverde's midfield options after agreeing a move worth €86million.

"When a player arrives at Barca, he knows he will be competing. It's a challenge for them, some accept it, others do not," Bartomeu continued. "When we go looking for a talent outside, we are sometimes told: 'I want to play, not be on the bench.'

"He is a player who will mark a time of European football. He has an incredible talent and an understanding of football which is that of Barca... and the same as that of Ajax."

Cardiff City have been making statements suggesting they will be trying to get out of their agreement to play Ligue 1 outfit Nantes, 15 million for Emiliano Sala, who died tragically in a plane accident on his way to his new club.
Do Cardiff have a point, or are they displaying bad form?

Juventus have made an enquiry to Inter to learn whether Mauro Icardi would be interested in a move, chief football officer Fabio Paratici has confirmed.

Icardi's future has been thrown into doubt after he was stripped of the Inter captaincy last week.

Wanda Nara, his wife and agent, insisted on Sunday that the Argentina striker does not want to leave but there are suggestions the club could look to sell before next season.

Paratici says Juve have informed Inter of their possible interest but has stressed this is relatively normal practice for the club.

"We asked for information," he told Radio Rai. "We wanted to know what Icardi thinks about playing for Juve.

"What we did was to inform them [Inter] that, if Icardi were to change club, Juve could be interested. These are things all clubs do with a lot of players.

"There has been no contact lately with Mrs Icardi. He's an Inter player and we have an important few months ahead."

Paratici also appeared to confirm Juve's interest in rising Roma star Nicolo Zaniolo, although he says the 19-year-old is one of many promising players they are monitoring.

"Very good young players, we are following them," he said when asked about Zaniolo, as well as Federico Chiesa, Sandro Tonali and Nicolo Barella.

"The list I wrote down was of players who it's pretty easy to tell are talented. It could have been put together by me or anyone who is even a little interested in football."

It has also been reported that Juve would consider allowing Paulo Dybala to leave as part of a deal to bring in either Mohamed Salah from Liverpool or Kylian Mbappe from Paris Saint-Germain.

However, Paratici has dismissed the speculation, saying the Serie A leaders have already done good business by agreeing pre-contract terms with Aaron Ramsey, who will join from Arsenal on July 1.

"At this moment, it's all fantasy football," he said. "It's only February, so nobody knows what could happen in June. We are proud to have brought Aaron Ramsey to Juve, as he is a great signing."

Thomas Tuchel praised Paris Saint-Germain's character after the Ligue 1 champions rounded off a triumphant week with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Saint-Etienne.

PSG put a significant marker down in the Champions League as they beat Manchester United 2-0 at Old Trafford in the first leg of a last-16 tie they tackled without star forwards Neymar and Edinson Cavani.

As his did in midweek, Kylian Mbappe stepped up impressively in their absence 17 minutes from time at Stade Geoffroy-Guichard – volleying a brilliant 73rd-minute winner.

"I am very happy because I knew very well that it was very difficult to play at Saint-Etienne," Tuchel told reporters after his team extended their seemingly unassailable lead at the top of Ligue 1 to 12 points.

"My team showed an exceptional mentality. We accepted all the circumstances. 

"We defended with great intensity and vigilance. We accepted that it was a difficult match. I am very happy. 

"We have been patient, the victory is deserved."

On Mbappe, whose 18th Ligue 1 appearance this term produced his 19th top-flight goal of the campaign, Tuchel added: "He shows his quality every day in training, he has this hunger to score, score, score. 

"It's his quality - he is a special player. 

"Everyone was tired after Manchester United, physically but also mentally. It was necessary to control the game, to play focused. 

"We showed the mentality to have the victory."

Kylian Mbappe chose to focus upon Paris Saint-Germain's collective after his stunning winner at Saint-Etienne broke new ground.

Mbappe netted the only goal of an otherwise forgettable contest in sublime fashion, swivelling to volley Dani Alves' lofted pass into the top left corner after 73 minutes.

It was Mbappe's 19th goal in 18 Ligue 1 appearances this season – making him the first player to have such a prolific return for 45 years.

Another increasingly recognisable feature of the performance was PSG's shape-shifting under Thomas Tuchel, as Marquinhos returned to centre-back and Juan Bernat tackled an unfamiliar midfield role.

As such, Mbappe hailed a team triumph on Sunday.

"We played against a good team, especially at home," he told Canal+.

"Few teams will come here to win, we did it. We are happy and we leave with the three points. 

"We must continue and aim as high as possible. My stats are good, but the team is better."

It left Saint-Etienne boss Jean-Louis Gasset to shower praise upon a player he feels will soon stand above them all.

"Paris respected us because it was practically the same team that played against Manchester United," Gasset told reporters, having seen Tuchel make three alterations from the side that triumphed at Old Trafford.

"We decided to defend low and try to counter if we could. We lost on a goal that came from elsewhere - a 20-year-old, who will soon be the best player in the world. 

"He's going to be the best player in the world in two or three years if he continues like that."

Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe continues to make history in Ligue 1.

Mbappe, 20, scored a wonderful second-half volley to see PSG overcome Saint-Etienne 1-0 on Sunday.

He became the first French player to score 19 goals in his first 18 games of a Ligue 1 season over the last 45 years as he continued his tremendous campaign.

Mbappe's 19 goals are also the most in the top five leagues this season among players who have not scored a penalty.

PSG's win moved them 12 points clear atop the Ligue 1 table.

A moment of magic from Kylian Mbappe gave Paris Saint-Germain a hard-fought 1-0 win at Saint-Etienne in Ligue 1.

The reigning champions and runaway leaders bounced back from a 2-1 loss to Lyon at the start of the month by beating Bordeaux 1-0 last weekend, however, Thomas Tuchel's team were short of their best once more at Stade Geoffroy Guichard.

Mbappe dazzled in the 2-0 Champions League win over Manchester United on Tuesday but found the going tougher in a line-up without the considerable talents of Neymar, Edinson Cavani, Marco Verratti and Thomas Meunier.

Yet he settled matters with aplomb in the 73rd minute, swivelling to guide Dani Alves's lofted pass into the top corner on the volley.

It was the act of a player a class apart from the rest – much like PSG, who are 12 points ahead of Lille at the summit with two games in hand.

The same combination that undid United in midweek were to the fore again, with Angel Di Maria storming forward on the break in the 20th minute to play in Mbappe, whose shot was beaten away at the near post by Stephane Ruffier.

Mbappe felt the effects of a robust challenge from Romain Hamouma, who had a shot blocked by PSG captain Thiago Silva late in the first half after Thilo Kehrer's misjudged headed clearance.

Ruffier smothered a shot from Julian Draxler at close quarters in the 55th minute, Di Maria and Mbappe having combined on the end of Marquinhos' excellent raking pass.

Juan Bernat's replacement Colin Dagba was quickly into the action with a last-ditch challenge to deny Saint-Etienne wing-back Gabriel Silva, with Kevin Monnet-Paquet going close from the resulting 63rd-minute corner.

Di Maria should have done better when he skewed wide two minutes later, leaving Mbappe to majestically show him how it was done.

He showed a more pragmatic side as he joined substitute Layvin Kurzawa in being booked for kicking the ball away in stoppage time -  PSG closing out a result that denied Saint-Etienne a move into the top four.


What does it mean? Any team in the world would miss Neymar

PSG's wonderfully composed win over Manchester United won deserved plaudits but this grasping and increasingly forced performance underlined that victory at Old Trafford came despite the absence of their star forward and not because of it.

Cavani's return will also be welcomed as centre-forward duties weighed a little heavily on the mercurial Mbappe until he produced another picturebook moment in a career already stuffed with them.

Masterful from Marquinhos

The Brazil international's shackling of Paul Pobga at Old Trafford underlined how swiftly he has developed from emergency midfield option to a dependable holding player in his own right. Marquinhos was back in his natural centre-back role here, unfurling a wonderful range of passing and appearing the coolest under pressure as the hosts launched their second-half forays. A Rolls Royce of a player.

Close shave for Bernat

The willingness of PSG's players to undertake unfamiliar roles and operate with flexible tactics has been a symbol of their development under Tuchel. Bernat started sharply enough on the left of a midfield three but was found wanting when a rare opening fell his way in the box. After his booking for fouling Mathieu Debuchy early in the second half, a 56th-minute challenge on Timothee Kolodziejczak was, at best, ill-advised and Tuchel had seen enough.

What's next

PSG tackle their rescheduled Ligue 1 home game against Montpellier on Wednesday – the first of three games in the space of six days at the Parc des Princes. Saint-Etienne travel to Dijon on Friday.

Jose Mourinho has suggested he would take a job in Ligue 1, while attending Lille's home game against Montpellier.

Mourinho, who has worked as a television pundit after being sacked by Manchester United in December, was pictured shaking hands with former France striker Nicolas Anelka at Sunday's game.

Earlier this month Mourinho was caught on camera suffering a fall at an ice hockey game in Russia, but he was on safer ground at the Stade Pierre Mauroy to watch a 0-0 draw.

"Look who is invited in the stands of the Stade Pierre Mauroy to attend #LOSCMHSC," Lille posted on Twitter with a photo of Mourinho at the game. "No, no, you're not dreaming - it's Jose Mourinho, the 'special one' in person."

The Portuguese coach has won league titles in his homeland as well as Italy, Spain and England throughout his distinguished career, which has also produced a pair of Champions League crowns, and he suggested he may be keen to work in France.

"I can imagine myself as a coach in Ligue 1," Mourinho, who previously dismissed speculation he could take charge of Benfica, said to beIN SPORTS.

"I am a man who has worked in four different countries, I like to know and learn other cultures. Working in a new championship would be a fantastic experience.

"For now I'm calm, I try to live better with my family and friends and I work to get the right opportunity to go back to training.

"Two to three months [without a job] is okay, afterwards it's more difficult. I hope to have the opportunity to come back stronger. 

"My project is my project as a person and coach, to improve myself, to be better, to think all days about my profession, which is also a passion. But this is not the time to talk with clubs."

Mourinho, previously linked with taking charge at Paris Saint-Germain, was reportedly a guest of Lille's technical director Luis Campos, with whom he worked at Real Madrid.

Campos - who has been linked with a move to either Chelsea or Manchester United - was sat next to Mourinho, who took a selfie with Lille goalkeeper Kouakou Herve Koffi.

Mourinho and his assistants were paid a total of £19.6million in compensation by United after the manager was sacked.

Interim replacement Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has subsequently led the club back into the Premier League's top four.

Neymar will not recover from his metatarsal injury in time to feature in Paris Saint-Germain's Champions League return clash with Manchester United, according to his father, who indicated that the forward will not play again until April.

PSG host United on March 6 in the second leg of their round of 16 tie, with the French champions taking a 2-0 lead into the game after Presnel Kimpembe and Kylian Mbappe scored in a convincing win at Old Trafford.

Neymar has been out of action since he injured his foot in PSG's 2-0 Coupe de France victory over Strasbourg on January 23, and his father ruled out the possibility of the 27-year-old playing in the next few weeks.

"For now Neymar is injured," Neymar Senior told Telefoot.

"It's complicated and it bothers those who love football and who like to see him play.

"The protocol is a minimum of 10 weeks. To come back against Manchester United is impossible."

Neymar Senior moved to distance his son from speculation linking him with a move back to Spain, with Real Madrid and Barcelona both mentioned as potential suitors in the media.

PSG paid Barcelona €222million for the Brazil international in August 2017 but reports that he would consider another lucrative move have persisted ever since.

Neymar Senior responded to the latest round of rumours, saying: "He is very happy in Paris, apart from the injury.

"There are two people who speak for Neymar: he and I have not spoken at any time.

"Has anyone ever heard anything from us about a possible return to Barcelona?

"It's impossible to leave a player like him out of the rumours. There was no call with Barcelona, ​​it's wrong.

"The present is in Paris, the future is in Paris. It's hard to talk about the future because in football, it can change at any time."

Mourners have paid their final respects to Emiliano Sala at a funeral for the late Cardiff City striker in his native Argentina.

A special memorial was held at a sports hall in the Santa Fe province where he grew up before the funeral took place later on Saturday.

The 28-year-old and pilot David Ibbotson were on board a Piper Malibu aircraft when it disappeared on January 21.

Sala was on his way to link up with Premier League side Cardiff after completing a club-record transfer move from Nantes two days earlier.

His body was last week recovered from the plane wreckage in the English Channel with the help of specialist contractors.

Bluebirds manager Neil Warnock and CEO Ken Choo were among the funeral attendees.

Daniel Ribero, president of Sala's first club San Martin de Progreso, described his death as "like a hard punch".

"On January 19 they confirmed his transfer to Cardiff and we were really happy for that," Ribero told Omnisport.

"And 48 hours later this tragedy happens. So we passed by a huge joy to an immense sorrow. As I said, [it feels] like a hard punch in the head."

Ribero said Sala's switch from Ligue 1 outfit Nantes to Cardiff had brought joy to those who knew him.

"That step ahead to Premier League, even if he was going to a club which was fighting against relegation, it could have been a step forward in his career to something bigger in Premier League, to a team which fights for something more important," he said.

"Then we all dreamed about him playing for the national team. Considering all these generational and technical changes [to the Argentina national team]... maybe if Emiliano had a good season in Premier League, he could have got his chance, and then we would have felt in heaven."

Warnock, meanwhile, said: "You know things like this don't happen very often, so you can't understand the emotions of the family. 

"The thing today is how united they all are, the village, not just the family, the whole village is really united. I think it really brings it home to you at this time, how important the family are.

"It's been very moving in there and it's been a difficult morning for everyone, but at least I think they've got some comfort now in the fact that at least they can have closure."

Lille forward Rafael Leao has enjoyed an excellent start to life in Ligue 1 but he dismissed comparisons with France World Cup winner Kylian Mbappe, saying: "I still have everything to prove."

Leao joined Christophe Galtier's men from Sporting CP in August and has since scored seven goals in 14 league appearances to help Lille rise to second in the table.

The 19-year-old's skilful performances on the flanks have led to him being dubbed the 'Portuguese Mbappe' by supporters but he played down the parallels between himself and the Paris Saint-Germain forward.

"I try not to pay attention," Leao told Le Parisien. "Mbappe is an accomplished player.

"He has already shown everyone his potential and won several big titles. I still have everything to prove, many things to learn to become a great striker like him.

"He is a source of inspiration, a model. But I'm not Mbappe. I have my own story and I am my own way."

Leao left his boyhood club Sporting CP following a tumultuous period in 2018, during which supporters invaded the training ground and assaulted members of the club's staff including players.

He made just four first-team appearances for Sporting but was nevertheless the subject of speculation linking him with Europe's top clubs, including Manchester City.

But Leao insisted Lille's offer of regular football was the correct choice, saying: "For the young player that I am, it is important to chain the matches in order to progress.

"What's the use of being in a big club if I do not play?

"I prefer to play in a team that gives me play time and allows me to grow.

"When [Lille sporting director] Luis Campos called me to express his interest, I saw no reason to refuse. He told me about the project and introduced the team he was setting up.

"But what pushed me to come here was especially the possibility of having play time."

Thomas Tuchel offered no update on the condition of Neymar or Edinson Cavani ahead of Paris Saint-Germain's clash with Saint-Etienne but confirmed Thomas Meunier and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting would miss the game amid mounting injury problems.

Right-back Meunier missed PSG's 2-0 victory over Manchester United in the Champions League following a head injury he sustained against Bordeaux three days earlier, and Tuchel said Cameroon international Choupo-Moting has been taken ill.

With Cavani sidelined by a hip injury and Neymar recovering from a damaged metatarsal, Tuchel said he is keeping a close eye on Marco Verratti and Presnel Kimpembe, who have both been dogged by injuries in recent weeks.

"Thomas Meunier will not be available tomorrow, nor Choupo-Moting because of illness," Tuchel told reporters.

"The other players will be present but we need to be attentive to the old injuries of Verratti and Kimpembe.

"There is no news for Cavani and Neymar."

Tuchel was in upbeat mood despite the fitness concerns, and he picked out Kimpembe for praise along with Brazilian midfielder Marquinhos who deputised in midfield at Old Trafford.

Full-backs Thilo Kehrer and Juan Bernat were also credited for their part in extending the champions winning run to three consecutive matches in all competitions.

"Thilo Kehrer and Juan Bernat are doing a great job," said Tuchel. "They deserve to play.

"Presnel Kimpembe has everything to become one of the best defenders in Europe.

"Marquinhos is very good in the middle, as in defence. He is an incredible player who must and always wants to improve.

"I am happy that we are able to play as a team. Whether in the Champions League or Ligue 1."

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