Areola Has Earned Another Year in Net for PSG

Last summer, Paris Saint-Germain didn’t feel the need to address any concerns in goal. Instead, Les Parisiens decided to give their youth academy graduate Alphonse Areola an opportunity to win the starting position. With names like Jan Oblak Alisson Becker, and Thibaut Courtois linked to the club at some point in recent transfer windows, PSG stood by their man Areola and so far he’s proved that they made the right decision.

Areola may not reach the status of the aforementioned goalkeepers but he’s shown that he’s good enough for PSG and shouldn’t be replaced so quickly. This season, the 23-year-old has appeared in 29 Ligue 1 matches and eight UEFA Champions League matches where he’s put together what has been statistically an excellent season.

Throughout Ligue 1 play, the Frenchman has conceded .69 goals per 90 minutes and recorded 15 clean sheets. When it comes to European competition, he conceded 1.12 goals per 90 minutes along with four clean sheets in eight fixtures. He was outstanding in the biggest of those Champions League matches and his numbers prove that he wasn’t the Achilles heel of the squad that pundits suggested that he might become.

In one Champions League match, in particular, Areola really showed what he is capable of. Against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, Areola put his body on the line for the club, which included making a save with his face. In an ugly away fixture against AS Saint-Étienne recently, Areola stayed near perfect by making key saves to lead PSG to a draw they really didn’t deserve.

Looking at his save numbers in retrospect, they show how valuable Areola is to PSG. The Frenchman averages 1.52 saves and 2.32 saves per goal (per 90 minutes) in Ligue 1. In Champions League matches, he rises to the occasion with his performance by averaging 2.50 saves and 2.20 saves per goal (per 90 minutes).

Throwing numbers can confuse and they can often be used to bend the truth, but comparing those numbers to Areola’s peers allows us to get a better sense of his form this season. Real Madrid has won back-to-back Champions League trophies with Keylor Navas. One quick glance at his numbers and play and you quickly realize that PSG can win a Champions League trophy with the Frenchman in net.

Last season, Navas’s form was okay in 12 fixtures, putting up similar statistics to PSG’s keeper. The 31-year-old averaged 2.43 saves and 1.88 saves per goal (per 90 minutes). Not flashy numbers but Madrid was able to repeat as European champions with him between the sticks.

Navas’ numbers last season, along with this season, are similar to Areola’s average. This situation goes to show that PSG can achieve their European aspiration with their youth product instead of splashing the cash for an expensive name. Like Areola, Navas has dealt with replacement rumors, but Navas has gone about his business and has become part of the Madrid core that has won a lot of football matches in recent memory.

It’s no secret that Madrid has had a long-standing love affair with Manchester United’s David de Gea. Every window, these rumors begin to circulate, but they haven’t prevented Navas from having success. Switching it back to PSG, supporters here have developed an affair for Oblak in particular, and who can blame them? He’s the best goalkeeper in football, in my opinion. In 31 La Liga matches, Oblak has registered 2.42 saves and five saves per goal (per 90 minutes) this season.

It’s the ability to become a brick wall for Atlético Madrid, which draws admiration from supporters of PSG. Will this transfer ever happen? Perhaps not, but like Real Madrid with de Gea, PSG can dream of Oblak. In reality, though, Areola has done enough to merit another season in net, regardless of who the manager is next season.

PSG flexed its financial muscle last summer and will have to again this summer, but this shouldn’t become the expectation. The club will need to rely on their academy and players who are outperforming their current contracts. Utilizing the academy, in particular, will send a positive message to prospects and hopefully keep them with the club instead of leaving in search of more playing time and opportunity.

These teenagers in the academy work incredibly hard and if PSG were to replace Areola after he’s performed admirably with an expensive signing, it says that the club will not reward their products with playing time even if they do what they’re asked and then some. With needs at other positions and the lingering issues regarding Financial Fair Play, acquiring a new keeper should remain at the bottom of the shopping list.

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Tags Alphonse Areola Champions League Jan Oblak Ligue 1 Real Madrid