Now that we have a good idea of which players will be leaving Paris Saint-Germain and who will be staying for next season, it’s clear that Leonardo, the club’s sporting director, has a lot of work to do.
Thiago Silva, Thomas Meunier, Layvin Kurzawa, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, Edinson Cavani, Tanguy Kouassi, and Adil Aouchiche will not be in a PSG kit next season. That much we know. It’s expected that Alphonse Areola, Julian Draxler, and even Leandro Paredes could be shipped out as well.
Other than Kouassi and Aouchiche, I’m not overly upset about any of these departures from a performance point of view, but it does leave Leonardo with the task of restocking the pantry a bit to make sure there’s depth at every position.
The most pressing concern is right-back. Thilo Kehrer and Colin Dagba can play the position but both spent much of the past season injured. Several names have been linked with a move to the Parc des Princes but no deal appears close to being completed at the moment.
Left-back isn’t as problematic with Juan Bernat being the unquestioned starter. However, Kurzawa’s departure means Leonardo has to bring in a player to compete with Bernat (Mitchel Bakker isn’t quite ready yet). Alex Telles appears to be the most likely candidate but as with all of these transfers, you can’t feel confident until the club makes the official announcement.
Sticking with defense, PSG needs a backup to Keylor Navas. Areola has made it clear that he wants to be the starter and that’s just not happening in Paris. With Marcin Bulka and Garissone Innocent expected to go out on loan, Leonardo will have to bring a player in (likely via a loan) that is comfortable with not playing very often.
One bit of business Leonardo has pulled off already is the signing of Mauro Icardi to a long-term contract. However, with Choupo-Moting and Cavani leaving, there isn’t a backup striker unless Leonardo thinks Kylian Mbappé can play that role occasionally and leave his more natural position on the wing.
One of the priorities this offseason for Leonardo was to sign a tall midfielder and I imagine that’s still the case. Ander Herrera barely played due to injury and Idrissa Gueye was inconsistent. Marquinhos will likely have to slot back to play center-back more often with Silva leaving the club. So there is absolutely a need for an experienced and physically imposing midfielder to come into the team.
Presnel Kimpembe and the aforementioned Marquinhos will be the starting center-back pairing and behind them in the pecking order will be Kehrer, Abdou Diallo, and Loïc Mbe Soh. Those three players are fine but if either Kimpembe or Marquinhos goes down with a significant injury, I don’t know if I have a ton of confidence in any of them playing significant minutes. For that reason, I think Leonardo has to be looking for a good deal on a quality center-back as well.
By my tally, Leonardo needs to make six signings. That sounds like a lot, but remember, seven or more players could be headed for the exit. Many of the signings will likely be loan deals, and I’m OK with that. New players could potentially be brought in via swap deals, which is why Draxler and Paredes are on the chopping block.
The most important thing for Leonardo right now is rebuilding the squad and showing Mbappé and Neymar Jr. that he can surround them with the necessary talent to seriously contend for the UEFA Champions League. If he can, the two superstars may decide to extend their contracts beyond 2022.
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