Paris Saint-Germain’s transfer policy so far this summer has been so random that I’m beginning to wonder if they’re using a footballing version of the dating app Tinder.
As a happily married man I have no first-hand experience of Tinder, but my, ahem, detailed research tells me it works as follows; you set your parameters (for example, male, 25-30, first name Jeremy) then get presented with a list of photos, on which you swipe right if you like them and left if you don’t.
I can just picture the scene at President Nasser’s secret lair, which is presumably housed in a hollowed-out volcano on an island off the coast of Qatar. He’s reclining in a big leather chair, flicking through his phone looking at potential targets.
Eliaquim, 23, Portugal – Never heard of him, looks a bit unrefined for me. Swipes left .
David, 27, England – I know him! And he’s got cool hair! Swipes right . What do you mean I have to pay €50million for a date?
– I remember this guy; I swiped right on him a while back, and we chatted for some time, but now I’m not so sure. Think he’s a bit old for me. Swipes left .
Mathieu, 29, England – Another familiar face, . Swipes right .
Ignazio, 27, Italy – Who doesn’t love an Italian stallion? Swipes right .
Serge, 21, France – Can’t make up my mind on this one. On the one hand loads of other guys are after him, but how am I going to impress my rich friends with someone they’ve never heard of? Swipes…
It might not have gone down exactly like that, but I am getting a bit worried that we don’t have a plan when it comes to recruitment this summer. I was never Leonardo’s biggest fan as a director of football, but he at least seemed to have a clear idea of what he wanted to achieve when building the PSG squad: established stars (Ibra, Thiago Silva, Cavani) alongside some of the best young talent in world football (Marquinhos, Lucas Moura, Digne). There was at least some adherence to the ‘new Messi’s’ policy trumpeted by QSI when they took over.
This year so far we’ve seen no evidence of such a strategy. Firstly there’s David Luiz; now I like watching Luiz play in the same way that I like watching Jeremy Kyle – it’s entertaining as long as you’re safe in the knowledge that the situation has nothing to do with you. The prospect of him marauding up field and abandoning his responsibilities next season doesn’t fill me with joy. And regardless of his merits or value as a player, he’s hardly a direct replacement for the physical presence of Alex; surely a move for the imposing figure of Magala, a younger player who is likely to improve in the coming years, would have made more sense? Buying an established name means Laurent Blanc will be under pressure to play him every week, which is unlikely to please Marquinhos, who will undoubtedly be looking to play more games this season.
A similar story is playing out now in our pursuit of a new right-back. PSG appear to be dallying about making a bid for Toulouse’s Serge Aurier, a 21-year-old player with bags of potential who has enjoyed a decent World Cup and is reportedly available for €8million. Instead they seem more keen on pursuing bigger name players such as AC Milan’s Ignazio Abate or Newcastle’s Mathieu Debuchy.
Obviously Abate/Debuchy would be an upgrade on Christophe Jallet, but surely it’s a no brainer that you’d put the younger, more promising player at the top of your shopping list? The problem I have with signing people like Luiz, Abate or Debuchy is the same one I expressed when we ; I just don’t see the point. PSG already have enough good-not-great players to pad out the squad; when they go into the transfer market now they should be to acquire top level signings or players who are going to develop and become mainstays of the team in the medium to long term. Getting two or three seasons out of a decent Italian right-back doesn’t fit either of those categories.
At present it seems like we’re going after any big name player who is available and being hawked about by their agent (hi Mino!). While Sporting Directors aren’t immune to this kind of thing, it might be time for PSG to consider appointing a man with a plan.