Paris Saint-Germain manager Thomas Tuchel has sympathised with out-of-favour Edinson Cavani and said his striker "doesn't deserve" to be spending so much time on the bench this season.
Cavani, 32, started this campaign with two goals in two Ligue 1 starts, but the prolific form of Kylian Mbappe and loan signing Mauro Icardi (from Inter Milan) has kept him mostly in the dugout since his injury.
Tuchel told reporters he's spoken to Cavani and is sad for the player, but the flourishing options in attack mean he's been forced to rely on others up front:
"We played a lot of games with three strikers including one No. 9. Cavani was injured at the beginning of the season, it's not his fault. Mauro (Icardi) played very well during that period, he scored a lot.
"If we play in 4-3-3, we have three extraordinary players for a position in front (as No. 9), Kylian, Mauro and him. I'm sad because I don't have a solution (to include him in the lineup) right now.
"He doesn't deserve that, he's very professional, in a good state of mind in the locker room, he gives a good energy to the team. But right now, I don't have much playing time to give him."
Icardi pounced on his chance to occupy Cavani's place and has scored six goals in PSG's last seven league games, forming effective partnerships with Mbappe and Argentinian compatriot Angel Di Maria.
Cavani spent almost six weeks sidelined following a hip injury and has started once in his five league outings since returning to fitness, making a three-minute cameo in Wednesday's 2-0 win over Nantes.
Goal's Sacha Pisani passed on quotes from Cavani's agent, Walter Guglielmone, who told CalcioNapoli126 his client will stay at PSG until his contract expires in June:
“He will stay (in January). There are still discussions (over a new deal), but for the moment, nothing concrete.
“We are not very worried about the contract extension. Edi will certainly have numerous opportunities, and above all, he will be free at the end of his contract.
"Edi still has three years to play at the highest level and he can play in any major team in Europe."
The Galaxy speculation in particular could have potential following Zlatan Ibrahimovic's exit, per Fox pundit Alexi Lalas:
Cavani is set to turn 33 in February, so it's understandable PSG may be wary about handing him a new long-term contract at the Parc des Princes, and his wages are sure to be another major factor.
Former employers Napoli have also been touted as a possible destination, but owner Aurelio de Laurentiis told Le Parisien (h/t Football Italia) in October 2018 that the player would have to lower "his demands" if the club were to afford a deal.
A return to a familiar setting in Naples could make sense following a spell out of favour at PSG, particularly as Dries Mertens has been linked with Inter Milan and a move to China before his contract expires in June, according to Corriere dello Sport and Gazzetta dello Sport (h/t Football Italia).
Cavani first rose to prominence in Europe with Palermo, but it was at the Stadio San Paolo that he enjoyed arguably the best years of his career to date:
The forward has scored 195 goals in 289 appearances for PSG and is the club's all-time top goalscorer. He is also approaching a landmark 300th game for the club he joined in 2013.
Les Parisiens stand to miss out on a transfer fee unless Cavani signs a new contract before the end of the campaign, but the club has gotten huge value out of their €64 million signing, per the CIES Football Observatory:
Tuchel is under pressure to deliver success at the Parc des Princes, meaning Icardi will remain the preferred frontman up top if the tactician feels he's the more reliable option.
PSG travel to Montpellier on Saturday, hoping to increase their five-point cushion at the top of Ligue 1 (with one game in hand).