PARIS — Paris Saint-Germain coach Unai Emery has conceded that being considered “important” to the club might not be enough for Angel Di Maria after his latest frustrations at not being given greater game time.
Having previously sat on a ball and pouted while the other substitutes warmed up and then refused to stretch multiple times when picked by Emery as a replacement to come on in PSG’s 2-1 win away at Monaco recently, the Argentina international stormed back to the dressing room after cutting his preparations short during last Saturday’s 4-1 win away at Stade Rennes and did not return.
Speaking at his prematch news conference ahead of Wednesday’s visit from Caen in Ligue 1, Emery acknowledged that a clear chat between the pair might not have been enough for Di Maria.
“Angel played against Lille and away at Strasbourg,” he told journalists at Camp des Loges. “I have spoken with him clearly about his role. He knows [his situation] — it could be that he wants more but I told him that he is important. I want him to be ready and raring to go, whether he is in the starting XI or a substitute.”
Di Maria is one of a few players who could leave Parc des Princes in January but Lucas Moura and Hatem Ben Arfa are ahead of him in moving towards the exit door.
Emery suggested that a new defensive midfielder would be welcome to ease the strain on the ageing Thiago Motta, while adding nobody other than Lucas and Ben Arfa have requested moves.
“We have discussed this but it is better if you speak with [PSG sporting director] Antero [Henrique], only he can provide you with an answer,” he said. “Each player knows their situation. I am glad to have this squad. The door is open for some of them.
“When we are without a player like Thiago, in the sentinel [deep-lying midfield] role, this is perhaps an area we can improve. That said, those who have played in this position have done well, such as Giovani [Lo Celso] last weekend. It is a position in the team that can be improved. If we are talking about eventual recruitment, it should be in this area.
“Other players asking to leave aside from Lucas and Hatem? No, no other players have asked to leave.”
Emery also suggested that midfielder Adrien Rabiot could be a surprise inclusion in the squad to face Caen after his recent injury, but said that captain Thiago Silva is likely to miss out again.
“The doctor reckons Adrien could play on Wednesday,” Emery said. “We will see if we take the risk and use him. Thiago is also a doubt.”
PSG will fly to Doha, Qatar, after they entertain Caen to fulfil sponsorship obligations there before finally linking up with their families for the festive period.
Jonathan Johnson covers PSG and the French national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @Jon_LeGossip.