Ever since the Periscope incident in February, things have not been the same for Serge Aurier.
After a little over a month out due to suspension, Paris Saint-Germain welcomed the Ivorian back to the club just in time to face Manchester City in the UEFA Champions League. Due to the nature of his comments, many speculated that his relationship with the manager were beyond repair and a move away from the club was imminent with teams like Bayern Munich and Juventus keeping tabs on the situation.
The former Toulouse FC defender performed decent after his suspension but he never regained the excellent form he showed for most of the season. He was especially poor against Manchester City, which led many to question Blanc’s decision to start him in such a big game.
Aurier’s end to the 2015-16 season couldn’t have been more different from the beginning. At the start, Aurier looked as though he was quickly becoming an influential figure in the squad both on and off the pitch. His tenacious defending and counter-attacking style put him in the discussion as one of the top right-backs in the world. His confident play was infectious and the team seemed to thrive with him playing at his best. In the dressing room, he publicly supported Benjamin Stambouli, who was jeered by PSG supporters due to the Frenchman’s childhood support of rival Olympique de Marseille. Towards the end of the season though, he added very little to the team and his ill-timed rant did him no favors with his teammates.
— Serge Aurier (@Serge_aurier) August 17, 2015
Despite all this, Aurier still remains one of the hottest prospects in Europe and PSG would be wise to keep the controversial right-back at the Parc. With Gregory van der Wiel set to leave the club this summer, it will be important for the club to sign a solid replacement to provide competition for Aurier so that he doesn’t become complacent. More so, with the Ivorian likely to be unavailable during parts of next season due to the Africa Cup of Nations, it will be crucial that Blanc sign a capable defender.
The French champions and Blanc in particular have done well with the handling of Aurier’s behavior thus far. The 23-year-old still possesses off-the-chart potential and for that reason, PSG must look past his social media mistake and late-season slump and concentrate on keeping their prized defender for seasons to come.
Photograph by FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images