Recapping a Busy Week for Paris Saint-Germain

Unai Emery marked his first game in charge of Paris Saint-Germain with a 2-1 win over West Bromwich Albion of the English Premier League. It may have only been a friendly, but it was good to see the players back on the pitch and the return of club football.

It was a good game from the reigning French champions with all three goals coming from PSG players. That’s right, all three. David Luiz gifted the Baggies an early lead with a comical own goal but the second half belonged to Paris as Lucas Moura and Adrien Rabiot both scored to secure the win.

The result of the match doesn’t really matter but it did offer a sneak preview of Emery’s tactics for the new season. Particularly interesting was the introduction of the 4-2-3-1 formation in the first half, which many predict will be how he’ll set up the team for the upcoming season.

Emery also gave playing time to some of PSG’s youth players, which backs up his earlier statement that he would like to see four or five players from the academy join the first team in the upcoming season. One man that caught my eye was Jonathan Ikone. The left-footed winger, who had come close to joining Juventus earlier this summer, was a handful for West Bromwich defenders all match. With PSG short on wingers at the present moment, there’s a good chance we’ll see a lot more of Ikone.

Odsonne Edouard on the other hand didn’t make the most of his playing time. The highly rated French attacker didn’t have his best game up front and was subbed out after the first 45 minutes. In the second half, when PSG switched to a 4-3-3 formation, new signing Hatem Ben Arfa moved from his preferred #10 role behind the striker to the front but didn’t fair much better to be honest.

Where Ben Arfa did thrive was in that #10 role in the first half. Despite not recording any goals or assists, he displayed amazing technique and appears to have a good understanding of his teammates on the pitch. Maxwell, who turns 35 in August, looks to be in great shape and will no doubt play a pivotal role this season. Overall, the players looked to be in good form under Emery and supporters have plenty to look forward to.

One unanswered question that will follow Emery throughout this preseason is who will be his first choice keeper? The manager has yet to decide between Kevin Trapp and Alphonse Areola with both playing the entirety of the first and second halves respectively. Both keepers performed relatively well last season (Areola was on loan with Villarreal) and it will be interesting to see if Emery goes with Trapp for another season or if Areola will finally get his chance to start at the club.

Much to the delight of Paris Saint-Germain supporters all over the world, Marco Verratti and Javier Pastore returned to training after long injury spells last season. Emery will need both at full fitness to be successful in his first season at PSG.

In transfer news, defender Lucas Digne departed the club to join FC Barcelona. The move was surprising as Digne was decent during his time in Paris and on loan at AS Roma but never appeared to be good enough for Barcelona. Digne joined PSG from Lille OSC in 2013 for around €15 million and his sale to Barca, if certain incentives are met, will net a decent profit for PSG.

https://twitter.com/Onefootball/status/753217934529560576

As if Emery’s first win and a departure wasn’t enough, PSG also announced the signing of Patrick Kluivert as the new director of football. There’s plenty of doubt over the Dutchman’s hiring and his appointment certainly comes as a bit of a surprise as he’s never been in this type of role at a club of PSG’s size. Time will tell if Kluivert can be as successful as Leonardo, who held the same position three years ago, or if the stage will prove to be too bright.

There’s a lot of business going on around the club at the moment and all of it sounds promising. Up next for Paris Saint-Germain on the pitch is F.C. Internazionale Milano in the International Champions Cup on July 24 from Eugene, Oregon.

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Photograph by SAMUEL KUBANI/AFP/Getty Images

Posted by Daniel

Daniel is PSG Talk's Nigerian correspondent and has been following Paris Saint-Germain since 2012. He feels the club is back on track with original QSI-project after taking a brief detour and is interested in seeing how it all plays out.

  1. HBA looked fine to me, especially since he is just learning the team and Emery’s system. Indeed, he looked good in the first as the #10 in a 4-2-3-1 set-up, but he wasn’t altogether disappointing playing a false 9 in the second halves 4-3-3. Would’ve liked to see him play in betwixt the center halves a little in the second half, especially since he has all that extra weight. Some reviews have given him MoM honors vs WBA, so at this point I’m not too worried.

    Our lack of a solid #9 back-up is a concern though. JKA has a lot of promise, but is too raw to be the guy, should Cavani get hurt deep in UCL run. It’s also difficult to find a 9 that doesn’t threaten Cavani’s sovereignty in that spot, and yet is still effective.

    Lastly, the Valencia target is one I don’t really get, around €30 mil is way too much for a 31 year old that is injury prone. I get it, we need a winger to play on the left side with power and pace to compliment our creative attackers, but surely we can find a younger, cheaper option.

    Allez Paris!

  2. Thanks for the comment.

    On Ben Arfa, yea he did ok overall. Looks quite fat though.

    The backup #9 is a serious issue but finding a good one that doesn’t directly tip Cavani off balance won’t be easy like you’ve said. The likes of Bacca or Chicharito could fill that role I think. While an outside gamble on Balotelli could also be interesting. For JKA, I think a loan deal will be good for the player.

    I doubt the Valencia rumours, no way we sign another Manchester United reject. World class wingers are quite hard to come by these days, but Alexis Sanchez is one I wouldn’t mind seeing at the club.

  3. I am still confused as to why we didn’t just pay for Gabigol. We have the money, and I understand PSG thought the fee was too much, but it will only increase if he performs to potential. Could also serve as back-up to Cavani with some tactical tweaks.

    As far as pure back-up striker options, I can maybe, just maybe see Bacca, as he has a history with Emery, but I think Chicharito will stay at Leverkusen, as he is the man, and will have UCL football this season. Cavani’s disposition and position at the club makes this a precarious undertaking.

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