It’s easy to overlook Nuno Mendes at Paris Saint-Germain. While the bright lights focus primarily on Kylian Mbappé, Lionel Messi, and Neymar Jr., the Portugal international has quietly become one of the best left-backs in Europe.
Some of the top football betting sites have picked PSG to advance from its group in the UEFA Champions League with Mendes likely playing a large role. Unfortunately, on Matchday 3, Mendes went down in the second half with what has now been diagnosed as a hamstring injury. According to PSG’s medical report, the 20-year-old will be sidelined for approximately three weeks.
The absence of Mendes will fundamentally change how Christophe Galtier sets up his squad. PSG’s new manager has preferred to play a back-three defensive line with Mendes and Achraf Hakimi getting forward in the wing-back role. The formation has proved to be successful so far this season, but that could all change.
Before the FIFA World Cup kicks off in November, PSG will play a total of nine matches, including the rest of the group-stage matches in the Champions League. If PSG wanted to do the right thing, they would keep Mendes on the bench until after the international tournament.
During those nine matches, Galtier will be able to experiment. First, he should play Juan Bernat as the left wing-back and see if he’s capable of getting forward to join the attack as well as tracking back to help on defense. If not, Galtier will be forced to play a traditional back-four defensive line, which could take some of the attacking potency out of the entire squad.
What could be troubling for PSG is if Portugal plays Mendes at the World Cup and he returns to the French capital having made his injury worse. If Bernat proves to be unreliable, the situation could force PSG to make a move in the January transfer window where they will likely need to sign another center-back to strengthen that end of the pitch.
The best-case scenario for PSG is Mendes heals completely and competes for Portugal at the World Cup. He would return to PSG with invaluable experience and he would be in form for the business end of the season.
Mendes is a fan favorite and his recovery will be followed closely—as will Lionel Messi’s recovery from a recent injury. If PSG executives have any pull over the Portugal national team, they’ll be in close communication with them over how to slowly integrate him into the squad.