Football. It’s a funny old game. Take Wednesday the 2nd of April for example, Paris Saint Germain had just beaten Chelsea 3-1 at home and everywhere you looked it was just talk of who they would meet in the semi finals. Fast forward one week and with Chelsea winning 2-0 at home they were out. PSG’s champions league dream had eluded them for one more year.
This article I’m writing here isn’t to slag off PSG for being knocked out nor is it any comment on their league status or form, this is simply an analysis in which PSG could simply improve their champions league credentials if they plan to, one day, lift the big eared trophy.
The first way the should look to improve is defensively. In 10 UCL games this season they conceded 9 goals, while that is not a bad stat is certainley is not the best. I’m not saying they should go out and spend another £40m on a defender because that will only mask the problem, while the PSG defenders are are actually very good individually, they need to learn to work as a team. The teamwork in defence will come as they play more and more together, so while not a major problem, it is still very much a problem. If they have more game time together they will eventually stop conceding as much and as we all know so long as your not conceding you can’t be beat.
The second problem I see is with PSG’s finishing. Now hear me out, I know most people reading this will probably be laughing at the moment and why shouldn’t they? In the same 10 UCL games they only failed to score in one game, scoring 25 goals. However think of that game where they failed to score (The 2-0 defeat to Chelsea). When they needed a goal the most they couldn’t produce the goods, baring in mind Edinson Cavani’s two golden chances he failed to put away. Maybe the problem isn’t with finishing but with being ruthless, Which now leads me into the third area on which they should improve, strength in depth.
With Zlatan Ibrahimovic out injured the duty fell to Cavani and to be blunt he failed to deliver. After the Chelsea game, both the goalkeeper (Salvatore Sirgiu) and captain (Thiago Silva) both went on record as saying they missed Zlatan too much. Now it is one of my footballing beliefs that squads win trophies not teams, so if Cavani had been injured too, who would PSG get too lead the line that has the same presence and goal scoring ability as Zlatan and Edinson? It is more than likely that they will go and spend money in the summer so instead of buying one player for a lot of money, why not buy a set of squad player, who could do the job when called apon.
My final conundrum is with the manager. Most of us know that when Carlo Ancelotti departed Paris, the first name on the list to replace him wasn’t Laurent Blanc, however Blanc has done a better job there than what Carlo did. His PSG team keep the ball much better and have a lot better chemistry. The problem here isn’t Blanc but rather his contract, his current deal expires next year. I think the owners should stick with him and allow him to build a great squad for years to come.
If PSG do these things and allow Laurent Blanc to assemble a squad for the future, I personally believe it will only be a matter of time before they get their hands on the trophy they crave so much.
Who are the five most valuable players under the age of 21?
The CIES Football Observatory have produced a list of the 100 most valuable players under the age of 21 and it makes for interesting reading, with three Premier League players in the top five.
CIES are a research group based within the International Centre for Sports Studies. It was created in 2005 and has looks to specialise in the statistical analysis of football, which is a growing field within the sport.
A lot of their studies are based in the financial side of the game and given the continued increase of transfer fees, they produce a lot of information that is of interest to clubs.
This particular study focuses on the top five leagues and it won’t come as a surprise that the Premier League features heavily.
Here are the five most valuable under-21 players according to the CIES study:
5 – Marcus Rashford (€116.7 million)
Amid all the spending that Manchester United have done in recent seasons, the value of producing your own players through your academy continues to be shown in the Manchester United squad. It is important to their supporters to have homegrown players and Marcus Rashford is one of the best that they have produced in recent seasons. According to CIES, he is already worth more than £100 million and it is remarkable to think that he may not have been given a chance if it wasn’t for injuries to Wayne Rooney and Anthony Martial.
It has been a good start to the season for Marcus Rashford as he continues to get significant minutes, despite the arrival of Romelu Lukaku. Across the Premier League and Champions League, he has contributed six goals and four assists. His goal involvement is one every 113.8 minutes. Considering he has been used in various positions and not played every week, this is impressive. United need to continue showing faith in him. If they do, the sky is the limit.
4 – Ousmane Dembele (€120.4 million)
The French winger made headlines during the summer, as he was selected to be the replacement for Neymar at Barcelona. There is a lot of pressure on the 20-year-old to live up to his price tag, which was £135.5 million. There were clauses included in the deal, but the overall value is more than the £120.4 million that he has been estimated at by CIES. However, there were circumstances driving that. Namely, the desperate position of Barcelona.
Last season, he was one of the best players in the Bundesliga as he contributed eight goals and 18 assists across the two major competitions. His goal involvement was one every 108.2 minutes, which underlines why Barcelona were keen to buy him this season. An injury has hindered him at the beginning of his La Liga career, but he remains one of the most exciting young players in the game.
3 – Leroy Sane (€124.5 million)
The £37 million that Manchester City paid for the German international is looking more and more like a bargain with every passing day. CIES value the winger at €124.5 million and that underlines the improvement he has made under Pep Guardiola. He is now one of the most devastating attackers in the Premier Leaguer and it will be fascinating to see how much further he can go, as he is only 21.
His record in the Premier League this season has been remarkable and he is well on his way to contributing at least ten goals and ten assists. Sane is already on six goals and six assists, with a goal involvement every 78.75 minutes. The quality of the team helps him, but his own performances have contributed significantly to the success of City.
2 – Dele Alli (€180.2 million)
It has been a difficult start to the new season for Dele Alli, but he remains one of the most exciting players in the world. In the list of these five players, the England international is the most attainable for the biggest clubs in Europe, as Tottenham have the lowest chance of winning major trophies. It will take a huge fee to secure the midfielder and the valuation of €180.2 million from CIES is around the fee that Spurs would expect.
Since joining Tottenham as a teenager, he has been a revelation and scored 28 goals during his first two Premier League seasons. This season has been harder as he has only three goals in 15 matches, but he was always going to go through a drop-off in form at some point. The test will be how he recovers. The next few months will show us how far Alli can go in the game.
1- Kylian Mbappe (€182.8 million)
The valuation from CIES is fractionally higher than the reported fee that PSG will pay for the teenager next summer when his transfer is made permanent. He was a revelation last season and played a major role in Monaco winning Ligue 1 and reaching the Champions League semi-finals. PSG have made the move to sign him and he could become the best player in the world at the club if he is managed correctly.
This season hasn’t been as eye-catching as his debut season in senior football, but he has been very impressive still, especially when his age is taken into consideration. He has contributed nine goals and seven assists across the two major competitions, with a goal involvement of 86.5 minutes. This is incredible, but there have been some critics as he isn’t as noticeable playing alongside Edinson Cavani and Neymar. He is clearly the best young player in the world and this list from CIES reflects that.
Should Monaco’s Thomas Lemar opt for a move to Liverpool or Arsenal?
With just hours left of the summer transfer window, Monaco’s Thomas Lemar has a decision to make. The Daily Mail claim that Arsenal have made a £90 million offer, whilst the London Evening Standard say that Liverpool are still prepared to pay over £70 million for the 21-year-old.
Goal claimed this morning that Lemar has made it clear to Monaco that he wishes to move to Anfield, but now with the choice of Merseyside or the Emirates, he will have to choose between Liverpool and Arsenal.
In the short term, the most obvious factors would suggest that Liverpool would be the better move. A squad full of young players signing improvements seems a much happier place to be than Arsenal, who are seeing an exodus of their key talent after the departure of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, with Alexis Sanchez potentially following in his footsteps.
The Reds also boast Champions League football this season, something that the Gunners cannot. It is hard to see why Lemar would abandon a Champions League campaign with Monaco to join Arsenal, who are far from certain to qualify next season either, even if they do sign Lemar.
The lure of playing under Jurgen Klopp may be more appealing than Arsene Wenger too. Whilst Wenger is a popular figure in France, he lacks the energy and the track record of having developed players in recent years that Klopp has. It was a key part of Oxlade-Chamberlain’s move, and Lemar may be thinking along the same lines.
With Liverpool yet to match Arsenal’s bid, it seems that he may not even have the choice. Monaco are clearly prepared to hold out for a high price, and if the Gunners meet that then it will put huge pressure on Liverpool to match the £90 million bid. If they refuse to do so, Lemar may well opt to stay at Monaco and pursue a move in January or next summer if he doesn’t want to drop out of the Champions League.
Is Monaco’s Thomas Lemar good enough to replace Alexis Sanchez for Arsenal?
Arsenal have revived their interest in Monaco midfielder Thomas Lemar as they eye up potential replacements for Alexis Sanchez. The Daily Mail say that the Gunners have launched a £90 million bid for the Frenchman.
The role of replacing the Chilean would be a huge weight upon the 21-year-old’s shoulders, particularly after just one season at the very highest level. However, he has already shown in his short career that he will not shy away from a challenge. His fine form for Monaco in the Champions League last season showed that much.
Lemar is very much a player of a similar mould to the current Arsenal number seven. Both players have immense technical ability and love to dribble with the ball. Lemar’s pace and drive down the flanks is one of his biggest assets and few full-backs know how to handle his trickery.
He is also a good deliverer of the ball. His crossing is almost unrivaled in Ligue Un, and with centre forwards like Alexandre Lacazette, Olivier Giroud and Danny Welbeck feeding off his chances in the middle, he could become a prolific assister for the Gunners.
Like Sanchez, Lemar is also capable of playing in a number of different roles. Usually, again like the Arsenal man, he plays on the left wing or left hand side of a front three. However, he can also play on the right or behind a central striker. At times he has even featured as a centre forward.
With youth on his side, some could easily argue that by signing Lemar to replace Sanchez, the Gunners would only be replacing the former Barcelona man with a younger version of himself. Lemar has many of the same attributes and will look to one day reach the level of consistency and quality that Sanchez has produced, and if he can then he will more than justify a £90 million fee.
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