Paris Saint-Germain attacking duo Ezequiel Lavezzi and Edinson Cavani have been fined and dropped from the team after returning late from the winter break, and will train on their own for one week.
Lavezzi and Cavani both returned to the French champions on Friday morning after missing a training camp in Morocco, fuelling speculation they could be leaving the club during the January transfer window.
PSG coach Laurent Blanc said on Sunday that the South American pair won’t be selected for the team’s next two matches, at Montpellier in the French Cup on Monday and Bastia in the league next weekend.
Blanc said their decision to return late in order to spend more time with their families was “unacceptable” and hindered his team’s ambitions for the second half of a season in which they have fallen to third behind Marseille and Lyon.
“We could have done without this, it comes at a bad time,” said Blanc.
“We’ll assess the situation at the end of the week and then decide if they can get back in the group.”
Although Blanc did not give any indication of a possible departure of either player, several big European clubs including Arsenal and Liverpool have been linked with a move for the forwards.
Cavani, who joined PSG for $77 million, has proved mainly ineffective this season, scoring seven goals in 18 matches while Lavezzi found the net only twice as their team failed to produce sparkling football.
Blanc has vowed to adopt a tougher approach during the second half of the season and to end a culture of “privileges” within a club flooded by money from its Qatari owners in recent years.
“I find it inadmissible and unacceptable,” said Blanc. “When you’re in a sports club, a collective project, once you put a personal project before the group, it puts the group in danger. I detest that.
“Once you meddle with the group and the team, I can become nasty and unforgiving.”