When you list the qualities a club must have in order to win the Champions League, a strong midfield is near the top and Paris Saint-Germain manager Laurent Blanc has the luxury of having one of the best in Europe.
With players like Blaise Matuidi, Thiago Motta, Javier Pastore, and Marco Verratti, at his disposal, Blanc has the world class talent capable of competing with the likes of Barcelona, Bayern Munich, and Real Madrid. But does he have enough quality in the squad should an injury or suspension take one of the starters out? Last season against Barcelona in the quarterfinals of the Champions League, it was clear PSG did not as they lost 5-1 on aggregate. Injuries forced Blanc to start a midfield of Yohan Cabaye, Matuidi, and Adrien Rabiot, in the first leg and the tie was all but over after one game as the Catalan giants ran out to a 1-3 victory.
PSG did a nice job addressing squad depth in the transfer window but I think more emphasis should have been placed on bolstering the midfield further. Credit to them for bringing in Benjamin Stambouli in place of the disappointing Cabaye but my concern is the failure to bring in an extra central midfielder.
Blanc appears to have put faith in the young France international, Adrien Rabiot and seems to be the driving force behind PSG holding onto him and refusing multiple transfer requests. However, I’m not as optimistic as I haven’t seen him do enough to be worth the fuss that is constantly around him. His maturity has also been called into question time and again. His initial refusal to sign a new contract at the beginning of last season and late arrival for the team’s departure prior to last season’s Coupe de France final versus AJ Auxerre just go to show he clearly has a lot to learn as a professional.
His performances so far this season have not been the most convincing either barring his excellent showing against Lyon in the Trophee des Champions. Highlighting this point was his sending off in less than 30 minutes against Lille in the first match of the Ligue 1 season.
Rabiot is a decent player overall for his age, and shows a high level of technical ability at times but he clearly still has a lot to learn to succeed at this level. PSG can probably get away with playing him domestically, but as the quest for Champions League glory remains the club’s primary objective, the club will need Rabiot to reach his potential and contribute when called upon.
I believe that if he can set aside his agent’s (who also happens to be his mother) transfer demands and focus on improving his game, PSG may finally have the midfield depth they’ve been seeking for the last couple of seasons.
Do you think PSG has sufficient depth in midfield? You can post your comments below or send them to @PsgTalk on Twitter.