The last decade treated Paris Saint-Germain well. With Qatar Sports Investment arriving in 2011 and flexing their financial muscle, PSG was able to transform the club by signing world-class players.
As a result, it’s a complicated process to put together an all-time starting XI of the decade considering the players who’ve worn the red and blue shirt of PSG. We’ll try to do our best though and put together a starting lineup that reflects the last 10 years of PSG.
Before beginning, let’s start with the formation that will be used to put together this dream team. Since Thomas Tuchel is the current manager, I thought I’d use the formation he often uses, which is a 4-3-3.
Now let’s begin constructing the starting eleven of the decade for PSG:
Goalkeeper: Keylor Navas
I’m going to be honest here, this is recency bias, but with a revolving door at the goalkeeper position, it’s hard for someone to stand out. In his short time, Keylor Navas has arguably become the best keeper of the decade for PSG.
Many have tried to claim the position as their own, but in pressure moments (mostly in UEFA Champions League matches) have crumbled. A few weeks ago, Navas returned to Madrid to play his former club in Real Madrid, and although the Costa Rican allowed two goals, he did make 10 saves to keep PSG in the match and eventually they battled back to get a 2-2 result.
When it comes to goalkeepers, this is one of the better performances PSG has seen this decade. Now, this can all change next season if PSG crashes out of the Champions League this season. However, finally having a bonafide starter in the net can help calm the nerves for defenders knowing if they make a mistake that Navas is capable of making a difficult save.
The Brazilian played for some of the more historical clubs in his European career. Clubs such as FC Barcelona, Inter Milan, and AFC Ajax; however, it’s with PSG that he enjoyed the most success while playing in Europe.
During his time with PSG, Maxwell appeared in 214 matches in all competitions while scoring 13 goals and 25 assists. Furthermore, in the five seasons with the club, Maxwell was a vital cog that helped Les Parisiens win the league for four straight seasons.
Finally, even towards the end of his career, Maxwell proved that the left-back position was his and no one else. Layvin Kurzawa was brought as the heir apparent to the Brazilian, but thus far, it hasn’t worked out for PSG. Despite that, it looks as though they might finally have replaced him after the recent addition of Juan Bernat.
One of the no-brainers in this starting 11. Marquinhos arrived in Paris as a teenager with braces and acne on his face. Fast-forward to the end of 2019, and he’s one of the more prominent players of this decade and a family man with the recent arrival of his second child.
Making 266 appearances in all competitions, Marquinhos has established himself as a core piece for the club. His mentality and willingness to do whatever the team needs to be successful—like playing as a defensive midfielder—has been refreshing.
Finally, over the last few seasons, the love from the supporters has grown. Earlier this season, the 25-year-old would see a larger than life tifo of himself before the match against RC Strasbourg Alsace. It’s safe to say that whenever Thiago Silva decides to say farewell to the club, which could be at the end of this season, Marquinhos will assume the role of captain.
Center-Back: Thiago Silva
Speaking of Thiago Silva, the PSG captain was one of the earlier big splash purchases of the QSI era. In his time with the club, O Monstro has come as advertised, appearing in over 300 matches for the capital club. Silva is undoubtedly the best defender to wear the PSG colors this decade.
Silva has had moments where he’s the indisputable best defender in the world. For example, against Liverpool FC last season at the Parc des Princes, Silva was easily the best defender in the match. He won five aerial duels and had an 86 percent passing rating according to WhoScored.com.
However, through this decade, there’s been frustration from some in the fan base. As the captain, he’s seen the club meltdown under pressure against FC Barcelona and Manchester United. If Silva can help lead the club to a deep run in the Champions League this season, then some of the hiccups in this decade will surely be erased.
Right-Back: Christophe Jallet
Much like the goalkeeper position, the right-back has seen a revolving door of players. Serge Aurier looked as though he was the answer long-term, but incidents off the field were too much for PSG to handle.
Then in the middle of the Zlatan Ibrahimovic era, there was Gregory van der Wiel. The Dutchman appeared in 132 matches for the club but couldn’t solidify the position, which is why Aurier was brought in to compete with him for the starting role.
As a result, the right-back of the decade has to go to Christophe Jallet. The only player in this list that precedes the QSI era, the right-back appeared in 198 matches and was someone that former manager Carlo Ancelotti trusted to captain the squad. Also, the Frenchman was part of the team that won two French league titles.
Midfielder: Marco Verratti
Another player that arrived in Paris at a young age and has grown up at the club is Marco Verratti. He has become one of the more valuable players in the squad considering both in his transfer value and importance on the pitch with his passing and defensive work rate.
Verratti has appeared in 294 matches for PSG while scoring nine goals and 48 assists. The Italian doesn’t score a lot, nor does he rack up a pile of assists, but he helps orchestrate the attack.
The 27-year-old is sometimes the subject of transfer rumors, but it doesn’t look as though he’s going anywhere anytime soon. Verratti has committed to staying long-term with PSG and will spend the rest of his prime years until 2024.
Midfielder: Thiago Motta
Like Maxwell, Thiago Motta played for some big clubs before arriving in Paris. The Italian played for Inter Milan and Barcelona, so he was used to the pressures of playing for a major club in Europe. Despite playing for those teams, Motta spent most of his European career with PSG.
Motta would appear in 231 matches for Les Parisiens and would be part of five French league titles. During his time with PSG, the Italian formed what was arguably the best midfield for the club when he played alongside Verratti and Blaise Matuidi.
Also, despite arriving in his 30s, Motta was the anchor defensively in the midfield. To this date, PSG is still looking for someone to take over the defensive midfield position ever since Motta retired with Marquinhos filling in the best he can.
Midfielder: Blaise Matuidi
One of the first significant transfers in the QSI era was the arrival of Matuidi from AS Saint-Étienne. The Frenchman would go on to appear in 295 matches for the club and was the offensive catalyst among Verratti and Motta. Matuidi would score 33 goals and 28 assists during his time with PSG.
Matuidi was one of the more beloved players of the decade, which led to him having his song called “Matuidi Charo (PSG)” and dance of the Charo. Also, some aren’t over his departure in 2017, considering the reason for him leaving was to provide Adrien Rabiot more playing time, and that didn’t work out.
Much like Motta, PSG is still looking for someone to fill his shoes. There are some candidates; however, no one had taken over the production that Matuidi left behind when he left for Juventus FC in 2017. Also, despite being gone for a couple of years, Matuidi remains—and always will be—a fan favorite.
Forward: Kylian Mbappé
The transfer of Kylian Mbappé to PSG (a loan in 2017 and officially signed in 2018) finally showed that the club could outbid the old guard for generational talent. Real Madrid was in pursuit of the teenager back in 2017, but it was the capital club that met the financial demands of AS Monaco.
In two years with PSG, the Frenchman has appeared in over 100 matches for the club and scored 75 goals in all competitions. Also, the arrival of Mbappé meant bringing a local talent home. The club has spent money, but for the first time, their spending was able to land a marquee French talent who’s followed by mainstream soccer supporters.
Then there’s the business side. At the time, many businesses wanted to wait and see if Mbappé was the real deal, especially if sponsors were looking to invest a significant amount of money into the club. Now, companies aren’t hesitant to invest substantial money into PSG as they want to see their brand associated with athletes like Mbappé. As a result, the club can continue to have a large transfer budget and not rely on “oil money” to improve the club.
Forward: Neymar Jr.
Speaking of players who helped PSG garner more sponsorships. Neymar Jr. brought an entirely new audience to Paris. The Brazilian is one of the more recognizable names in the world and it’s no surprise the club was able to gain more money from a kit sponsor and kit manufacturer.
Then there’s what Neymar can do on the field. It’s no secret that the 27-year-old hasn’t been able to stay healthy to suit up for PSG, particularly in the knockout stages of the Champions League, but when he’s on the pitch, he’s a difference-maker. In 69 appearances for Les Parisiens, Neymar has scored 59 goals and 34 assists.
Having a top-three player in the world shows how far PSG has come in the QSI era. However, keeping Neymar healthy for the knockout stages of the Champions League and making a deep run in Europe with Neymar at the forefront can do a lot to validate the investment the club made in bringing him over from Barcelona.
Striker: Zlatan Ibrahimovic
The striker position is one that will bring debate, Edinson Cavani is beloved by the club and the supporters. With that said, being the first superstar of the decade for PSG carries a lot of weight and the confidence Zlatan Ibrahimović brought to the club cannot be underestimated.
Out of all the clubs he played for, the Big Swede made the most appearances with PSG. Appearing in 180 matches while scoring 156 goals, Ibrahimovic left in 2016 as the all-time leading goal scorer in club history until it was broken by Cavani a few years later. On the pitch, Ibrahimovic set the standard when it came to scoring goals, but he also helped as a leader.
Ibrahimovic is outspoken and that was certainly the case at Paris Saint-Germain. For example, during his tenure in the French capital, he called out referees and Ligue 1 by saying they don’t deserve PSG. Zlatan’s confidence helped Verratti and other players within the club become leaders themselves but no one can quite replace the swagger of Ibrahimovic.
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