Paris Saint-Germain’s search for a defensive midfielders leads them to the Bundesliga. No, not that Bundesliga. We’re talking about the Austrian Bundesliga. Canal+ recently linked the reigning French champions to FC Red Bull Salzburg’s Diadie Samassékou. The 22-year-old is yet another name that PSG will monitor as they look to fill the hole that was left behind by Thiago Motta this past summer.
Le #PSG serait intéressé par le milieu défensif, Diadie Samassékou (RB Salzbourg). Un premier rendez-vous a eu lieu entre l’entourage du joueur et Paris. Son profil plairait beaucoup à Antero Henrique. La valeur du l’international malien est estimée entre 20M€ et 30M€. (CANAL+) pic.twitter.com/UpklMyi9wT
— Vince PSG (@VinceMalouh) December 22, 2018
The Mali international has spent the last four seasons with Salzburg after arriving from AS Real Bamako. Since then, Samassékou has transformed himself into one of the better midfielders in the Austrian Bundesliga. A young, but raw talent, Samassékou, would be a long-term investment for PSG.
Over the summer, PSG took a chance on another young, but raw, talent in Thilo Kehrer. Although he was sort of a mystery, Thomas Tuchel and the PSG hierarchy decided to roll the dice and pay the elevated transfer fee of €37 million. It took some time, but Kehrer has integrated himself into the squad and has even featured in some of the season’s most significant matches. After years of big-name transfers, PSG is looking towards youth. The acquisition of Kehrer—and Kylian Mbappé to an extent—is ushering in a new wave of young talent before it’s fully developed and Samassékou would add to that movement.
What Do the Numbers Say?
Samassékou primarily plays as a defensive midfielder but can play the central role as well. His strengths lie on the defensive side and the numbers don’t lie. He is third on the team in tackles per 90 with 2.66 (via SofaScore) for midfielders with 10 or more appearances. Also, young players tend to lose a high amount of duels, but that’s not the came with Samassékou who averages 0.55 dribbled past per 90 and wins 58 percent of his duels.
When he’s not going in for the tackle, Samassékou is more than capable of closing the gaps and intercepting the ball. He averages 3.13 interceptions per 90, which is second in the Austrian Bundesliga for midfielders with 10 or more appearances. Whether it’s a tackle or interception, Samassékou is more than capable of possessing the ball from the opposition.
The offensive side of the ball is not his calling card, but Samassékou can efficiently serve as the link from defense to offense. In 15 matches for Salzburg, Samassékou averages 66.71 total passes per 90, which is third in the league for midfielders. Furthermore, Samassékou’s accuracy puts him at the top in terms of passing for his position. The Malian averages 57.43 accurate passes per 90 with an accurate pass percentage of 86.
Another aspect of Samassékou’s passing game that is among the elite in Austria is his ability to pick out a long pass. Putting up 4.78 accurate long passes per 90 is good enough for top 5 regarding accuracy for midfielders. Considering the speed of Mbappé and Neymar Jr., PSG could definitely benefit from having a midfielder who can spray long passes to them to spring the attack.
Samassékou’s heat map (via SofaScore) displays how much ground he covers out on the pitch for Salzburg. As you can see, Samassékou has a serious impact on the game on the defensive and offensive side of the pitch.
Financial Fair Play will handcuff PSG for the next couple of transfer windows so they’ll have to be fiscally responsible. According to Transfermrkt, Samassékou’s value sits at €20 million, which would fit within PSG’s transfer budget. Although he will be a solution to the defensive midfielder role, don’t expect Samassékou to play in the UEFA Champions League if the club decides to bring him to the French capital.
Like Kehrer, Samassékou would see time in Ligue 1 and league cup matches first. Tuchel would have to see what he can do in France first before he even thinks about playing him against Manchester United or whoever PSG draw in the latter stages of the competition if they advance. There’s nothing wrong with having a young player get accustomed to a new league. The jump from the Austrian Bundesliga to Ligue 1 is a significant one—despite what the casual fan or Premier League homer might think of the French league. Nonetheless, Samassékou could finally be a solution to PSG’s defensive midfield.
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