Seventeen-year-old Tanguy Kouassi doesn’t even have a professional contract with Paris Saint-Germain and yet, he could start in the most important match of the season.
On March 11, Paris Saint-Germain will battle Borussia Dortmund at the Parc des Princes needing a resounding win to overcome a 2-1 defeat in the first leg of their Round of 16 UEFA Champions League tie.
Injuries and suspensions are making life difficult for manager Thomas Tuchel. Marco Verratti and Thomas Meunier are suspended for the match. Thiago Silva is likely out with an injury as is Ander Herrera. These absences leave some gaping holes in the midfield and defense and over the next two matches, Tuchel has to figure out which lineup gives his side the best chance to defeat Dortmund.
As reported by Le Parisien, Tuchel could start Kouassi at center-back along with Presnel Kimpembe most likely. Abdou Diallo is another option but like Kimpembe, he is left-footed, which isn’t ideal for a center-back pairing.
Marquinhos could play center-back but Tuchel clearly prefers the Brazil international as a defensive midfielder where he has excelled this season.
Kouassi has made six appearances in Ligue 1 this season and he also became the youngest PSG player to feature in the UEFA Champions League when he started against Galatasaray SK in the group stage. As Benjamin Quarez of Goal recently wrote, Kouassi is a versatile defender who is mature beyond his years.
It’s a frightening concept of the young Frenchman starting against Dortmund with the task of quieting Erling Haaland and Jadon Sancho but it’s a gamble that could pay off for Tuchel.
Kouassi doesn’t have those catastrophic Champions League defeats weighing on his shoulders, which could aid his confidence. At 6’1″, Kouassi has the physical attributes that would allow him to compete with 6’4″ Haaland.
His height will undoubtedly be useful on corners, too. Against Amiens SC on February 15, Kouassi led the comeback in the second half with two headers from corner kicks. His leaping ability could cause issues for Dortmund’s defense, which is one of the worst in the Bundesliga.
We’ll likely have a better idea of Tuchel’s plans this Wednesday when he releases his official starting lineup to face Olympique Lyonnais in the semi-final of the Coupe de France. It will be a great test for Kouassi if he starts and how he performs could be an indicator of whether or not Tuchel will trust him against Dortmund.
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