There’s still one game left for Paris Saint-Germain, the Coupe de France final against Olympique de Marseille, but the contributors here at PSG Talk have seen enough football to declare their Player of the Season.
Below, a few of our writers have made the case for who they think should win our imaginary trophy but you can have your say too. After reading our thoughts, vote for you choice at the bottom of the article. We’ll announce the winner before the cup final this Saturday.
Poor Thiago Silva. It seems in a year where just about every member of the squad has been scrutinized, scandalized, or immortalized, PSG’s captain has flown quietly under the radar. It’s not as if the defense hasn’t been catching headlines, between David Luiz and Marquinhos battling for a starting spot. Likewise the full-backs enjoyed their share of drama as well—does Laurent Blanc trust young Layvin Kurzawa? Will stalwart Maxwell extend his contract? And of course, Serge Aurier defies summary or comment. No, this season PSG fans have been staring at their defense quite a lot. That’s what makes Silva’s season so mystifying. It’s some of the best football he’s ever played after an inconsistent 2013-14 season and an injury-prone 2014-15; he’s played more minutes, and he’s been superb. Squawka’s performance index gives him a 1588 from 30 league games played, compared to last season’s 1162 score in 26 games. PSG may have walked the league this season, but a huge part of that is Silva’s no-nonsense play and wonderful composure at the back – 94 interceptions this season, and 0 defensive errors. No scandals or outbursts from the captain, either. No diplomatic posturing.
Silva came to the club in the very same transfer deal that brought this season’s cast-in-bronze Zlatan Ibrahimovic to the Parc. I personally remember it fondly as a birthday gift that July. In that sense, the big Swede—a very fair vote for Player of the Season (see below)—is emblematic of the face of Qatar’s PSG, this dramatic, bombastic Hollywood effigy of a club. He is the grandeur and idolatry. And like the club he so epitomizes, Zlatan falls short in the biggest moments. I love Ibra. He is a legend. Perhaps the people that don’t understand his role here don’t realize just how much he embodies the new PSG. But much like quarterfinal fatigue sets in, much like the domestic quadruple ceases to be such an achievement, Ibrahimovic ceases to be the face. Silva is the heart. Silva, head down, armband on, quietly reading the game no matter who partners with him. He is not Hollywood. He quietly cleans the set. For that reason, I see him as our Player of the Season, the final one unsullied (since Max might still be gone). Even if Dunga doesn’t see much, he’ll soldier on. Zlatan or no Zlatan, Blanc or no Blanc. The face changes but the heart keeps beating.—David
Kevin Trapp entered a difficult situation when he signed for PSG from Eintracht Frankfurt last summer. The German was brought into a situation where he was expected to replace the experienced Salvatore Sirigu as the team’s first choice keeper. The Italian was a fan favorite and popular in the dressing room. Nicholas Douchez was moved to third choice keeper with Trapp’s arrival, which meant two experienced keepers were benched for a seemingly random German international that was unproven in Europe. Critics of the signing were proven right as Trapp made a series of errors that cost them points in the league and in the group stage of the UEFA Champions League.
Trapp turned his season around though and it you have to say that overall, the German had a great debut with the French champions. He entered the season with high expectation as the first choice keeper and he met those expectations by recording 18 clean sheets in Ligue 1 and saving four out of five penalty shots in all competitions. He also had several noteworthy saves, specifically in the second leg of the tie against Chelsea F.C. where he made 10 total saves.
Angel Di Maria
The Argentine has been superb this season and has enjoyed a tremendous start to life in the French capital. He broke the record for most assists in Ligue 1 in a single season (18) and the club record for most assists in a season with 24 in all competitions. His 15 goals this season prove the Argentine has adjusted well since arriving from Manchester United last summer and I predict he will only get better next season as he becomes more familiar with his teammates.
The addition of Di Maria has raised PSG to another level, especially in the Champions League, with brilliant performances against Real Madrid and Chelsea coming to mind. The team often failed to deliver when he wasn’t on his game—a rare occurrence with the winger often managing to pull off either an assist or a goal even on his bad days. For me, he was the most important player this season.—Daniel
PSG is undoubtedly one of the biggest clubs in the world. This means that many superstars can be found within its ranks. However, my PSG Player of the Season is someone that, while still being highly regarded in the footballing world, is not one of the most attractive megastars the team can offer. I’m talking about Maxwell.
The Brazilian has been one of PSG’s most consistent performers this season, which is shocking considering he’s 34-years-old. Maxwell made 28 appearances in Ligue 1 (24 starts) and in the process, helped teammate Kevin Trapp keep 18 clean sheets. Whoscored.com has given Maxwell a 7.1 average rating in all competitions this term, once again proving his infinite reliability and class.
Maxwell not only performed his defensive duties extremely well this season, he also managed to offer a scoring threat when attack, as he scored three goals and recorded five assists in all competitions. Those stats are impressive for any left-back, yet Maxwell, in the final years of his career, can still keep up with the best oppossing attackers. Moreover, I’d like to say that Maxwell is more than just stats. Whenever he touched the ball, I felt a feeling of safety and my favorite player always kept a cool head in dangerous situations. It is incredible what Maxwell has been doing this season in Paris and I wouldn’t mind if they extended his contract another year.—José
What more can be said about Zlatan Ibrahimovic and his stellar play this season? He became PSG’s all-time leading scorer (154 in 179 games) and with 38 Ligue 1 goals, he broke a club record that stood since the 1977-78 season. When he wasn’t banging in the goals, Ibrahimovic was looking to get his teammates involved and recorded 13 assists—second most in the league. A section of the Parc will be named after the Super Swede and I’m not entirely sure the Eifel Tower shouldn’t be replaced with a statue of Ibrahimovic.
Very much like the club, where Champions League results reign supreme, Ibrahimovic stepped up when it counted, scored five goals and assisting on three others. Most memorable were his two goals in the tie against Chelsea F.C. in the round of 16. Sure, Zlatan was partly to blame for not converting his scoring chances against Manchester City in the quarterfinals of the Champions League but there were a lot of other factors that went into that lost. In fact, expecting a 34-year-old to deliver a semifinal birth in the biggest competition in club football speaks to just how great the Sweden international was this season.
Ibrahimovic was on a mission all season and nothing seemed to distract him. Not even Aurier’s Periscope rant got a rise out of Zlatan (at least not publicly). There were no post-game rants about teammates, the manager, or referees. Even as news outlets speculated about where he might play his football next season, Ibrahimovic stayed quiet and never really fed into the media. His incredible scoring record combined with his professionalism off the pitch make him my Player of the Season.—Ed
Top photograph by FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images