What PSG’s Season Has Taught Us So Far

Paris Saint-Germain will emerge from November’s final international break of 2023 at the top of Ligue 1 and second in UEFA Champions League Group F with seven games to play before the winter break. Les Parisiens’ time off from the Championnat calendar will be interrupted by the rearranged Trophee des Champions in early 2024, but Luis Enrique’s men could be in a stronger position then. Critical home games against AS Monaco and Newcastle United come immediately off the back of this international period, while Borussia Dortmund and Lille OSC away will also be of great significance.

Remaining top of Ligue 1 and retaking top spot in UCL Group F will be PSG’s main targets, but simple qualification for the knockout phase is all that truly matters as far as Europe goes. Although an important part of the season is about to play out on the pitch, we can already draw some conclusions from what we have seen this campaign so far. The October to November international break period produced five wins from six and one defeat, which came on the road at Milan, who were also beaten 3-0 in that same period.

We look at what PSG’s term is telling us so far and how it could shape the start of 2024.

Read the full article at PSG Talk Extra Time on Substack.

Left-back depth is needed

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As already mentioned numerous times in recent months, Lucas Hernandez simply is not enough for PSG at left back while Nuno Mendes is recovering from surgery. Both, when fully fit and healthy, present two extremely solid options, but injury or suspension to one or the other exposes how little depth there is on the left side of the defense. Given that the Portugal international is expected to be missing into 2024, the French champions should be looking at the January transfer window as an opportunity to solve this problem with a view to continental and domestic competition. Short of Mendes recovering ahead of schedule or testing Presnel Kimpembe, once fully fit, there is no obvious solution without entering the transfer market.

The midfield is a work in progress

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Luis Enrique has found the combination of Warren Zaïre-Emery, Manuel Ugarte, and Vitinha to be his favored midfield trio so far this season, but that, too, has had its limitations. Gelling the three talents together was always going to take time, and there have been as many teething issues as there have been flashes of brilliance, but it is clear that this current iteration is not yet the finished product. It will take time and perhaps a tweak in personnel with one other player added to the mix in regular rotation, but the right balance is not too far off, and that chemistry should strengthen as this campaign advances.

The French identity is forming

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It has taken shorter than expected, but PSG already feels like more of a French team than it has done in many years. On top of Zaïre-Emery, Hernández and star man Kylian Mbappé, Ousmane Dembélé and Randal Kolo Muani have been regulars in the starting XI so far, while Bradley Barcola is enjoying greater involvement of late as well. This will continue to grow with the influential Kimpembe yet to return, while Zaïre-Emery’s rapid rise to recognition with France at the senior international level has offered an immediate reward for this new direction taken last summer after years of erosion.

Mbappé is not yet entirely at ease

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It is not all going perfectly in the French camp, with Mbappé yet to truly look his usual self for a long period of time. The change of pace under Luis Enrique, as well as the nature of last summer and the continued speculation over his future, all factor into the France captain’s up-and-down form, which was perfectly exhibited just before the November internationals by a somewhat anonymous showing in Milan and then a treble away at a good Stade de Reims side. Mbappé was offered constructive criticism by his Spanish boss after that game, and it is up to him how he processes that and adapts his game from Monaco onwards.

Read the full article at PSG Talk Extra Time on Substack.

Tags AC Milan Bradley Barcola Champions League Kylian Mbappé Luis Enrique Manuel Ugarte Nuno Mendes Ousmane Dembele Presnel Kimpembe Randal Kolo Muani Vitinha Warren Zaire-Emery
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