Paris Saint-Germain’s Uruguayan forward Edinson Cavani reacts during the UEFA Champions League Group C football match between Paris Saint-Germain and SSC Napoli at the Parc des Princes stadium, in Paris, on October 24, 2018. (Photo by Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP)
Uruguayan striker Edinson Cavani says Paris Saint-Germain’s team of dazzling individuals including Neymar and Kylian Mbappe need to work more as a team if they are to win the Champions League.
In an exclusive interview with AFP, Cavani said the importance of winning the Champions League for the French club was drummed into him even before he signed from Napoli in 2013.
“It’s an objective that the club discussed with me before I signed the contract,” said ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League Group C clash in Naples.
“It is in my head. It flows through my veins. I want to win it because that is the job that was presented to me when I came (to PSG).”
PSG’s domination of Ligue 1 — they have won five of the past six championship titles — allows them to prepare well for their ultimate goal of winning Europe’s premier club competition.
But the Champions League has produced nothing but heartbreak for PSG and their Qatari owners, who have plunged millions in the club in the hope of creating one of the continent’s top sides.
PSG’s hopes ended at the quarter-finals four years in succession from 2013-2016, and at the last 16 in the past two campaigns.
Coach Unai Emery was fired last summer and left for Arsenal after failing to bring the trophy to Paris and new coach Thomas Tuchel has inherited the task of realising the dream.
Tuchel has brought the emphasis on teamwork to PSG’s training ground, said Cavani.
“He has a wonderful mentality and likes to win with a strong team structure,” said the 31-year-old, voted PSG player of the year in 2017.
“He wants everyone to play together and that is what is important for me.”
– All together –
Cavani cited Atletico Madrid and Juventus as clubs who play together with the kind of robust, disciplined teamwork that Tuchel is trying to instil into PSG.
“That does not mean that we (PSG) do not work together,” said Cavani, whose star has declined since fellow strikers Neymar, the world’s most expensive player, and teenage sensation Mbappe joined him in the attack.
But Cavani denied there was friction.
“We are a work in progress,” he said. “That does not mean I don’t get on with Neymar or Mbappe. I hope that work with the new coach can give the perfect structure to produce a big season — altogether.”
After defeat at Liverpool and being held 2-2 by Napoli last time out, a win at the San Paolo stadium will be crucial if PSG are to make it past the group stages.
But before facing his former club, Cavani said: “It will be good match to show that we have moved up to a higher level and that we are able to deal with this kind of pressure — because if we lose, that will make it tough for us to get out of the group stage.”
Appearing in Monaco to receive the Golden Foot award for oustanding athletic ability and personality, Cavani told AFP he had shrugged off a recent thigh injury and expected to play in PSG’s home league match against Lille on Friday.
Lille sit eight points behind PSG in second place with Montpellier, who host Marseille in Sunday’s late game, three points further behind in third.
Lyon occupies the fourth and last qualifying spot for the Champions League but are 13 points adrift of PSG before hosting Bordeaux in Saturday’s early game.
Fixtures (all times GMT)
Friday PSG v Lille (1945)
Lyon v Bordeaux (1600), Caen v Rennes, Dijon v Nimes, Nice v Amiens, Reims v Monaco, Strasbourg v Toulouse (all 1900)
Nantes v Guingamp (1400), Saint Etienne v Angers (1600), Montpellier v Marseille (2000)