Brazilian legend Juninho has claimed that Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) superstars Kylian Mbappe and Neymar do not need to be friends to be effective on the pitch for the Parisians. According to Juninho, being responsible and respectful towards the jersey is more important than sharing a great relationship.
PSG secured a hard-fought 2-1 win over Juventus in their Champions League Group H opener on Tuesday night (September 6), with Mbappe scoring both goals. Neymar assisted Mbappe’s opener and the duo celebrated together in front of their supporters at the Parc des Princes. However, in the 51st minute, there was controversy when the Frenchman opted to shoot instead of passing it to the Brazilian, who was seemingly in a better position. The former Barcelona man appeared visibly angry with his teammate's decision-making.
Many media outlets have since questioned the interpersonal relationship between the Parisian superstars. Juninho, however, played down the matter on RMC Sport’s Rothen s’enflamme, claiming that it was not necessary for them to be friends to help Les Parisiens. The former Brazil international said (via PSGTalk):
“They don’t have to be friends. It’s true that it gives the impression on certain actions that they do not see each other or pretend. The most important thing is that they are responsible. That means training by giving everything.”
“And from the moment you’re on the pitch, that’s the most important thing. You have to respect the supporters, the jersey worn. If the coach and the leaders are able to manage that and make it understood to the players, I don’t think they will have any problems on the pitch.”
It is not the first time the two superstars have had on-field disputes this season. The left-winger stopped the former Monaco man from taking a penalty kick after he missed the first one in a 5-2 win over Montpellier (August 14) in Ligue 1.
PSG superstar Neymar is the teammate Mbappe’s combined with the most in his career
Both Kylian Mbappe and Neymar joined the Parisians in the summer of 2017. Since then, they have played 118 matches together, combining for a whopping 50 goals. Had it not been for the Brazil international's recurring injuries and fitness issues, the number of games (and goals) could have been much higher.
Angel Di Maria, who joined Juventus earlier this summer, is the player with the second-most joint goal participations with the 2018 World Cup winner. They played 151 games together at PSG, combining for 31 goals.