It seems that one of the only stories to follow this winter in the January transfer window is the ongoing saga at PSG involving a new defensive midfielder. With the likes of Thiago Motta, Marco Verratti and Adrien Rabiot, defensive midfield has never been a problem area for Les Rouge-et-Bleu in recent years. However, all of that has changed this season under Thomas Tuchel, with the club even reverting to a new 4-3-1-2 formation in recent months and desperately seeking out a replacement in the current January transfer window.
The problem all began last year with the untimely transfer of Blaise Matudi to Juventus coinciding with Thiago Motta’s retirement from his illustrious seven year spell at the club. Polish international Grezegorz Krychowiak was also loaned out to West Bromwich Albion after failing to make his mark following a move from Sevilla. Meanwhile Marco Verratti and Adrien Rabiot have both struggled on-and-off with injury since the start of last season and the impressive Giovani Lo Celso was loaned out to Real Betis this season after garnering respect in 2017-18 under Unai Emery. PSG’s options in defensive midfield have been limited as a result and they have often relied on a 4-3-1-2 formation that includes space for just one central or defensive midfielder. The other two players in the three-man midfield are very much wide midfielders. The likes of Dani Alves, Neymar and Julian Draxler have all played the part, meaning Rabiot and Verratti have rarely ever played together this season. The role of the sole central midfielder has gone to a variety of different players – from the two obvious choices in Verratti and Rabiot to central defender Marquinhos and German winger Julian Draxler. But other than the departing Rabiot, no player has looked totally comfortable in the formation under Thomas Tuchel. With a back-four that looks settled and a front-line that can include any combination of Angel di Maria, Edinson Cavani, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar; the midfield is certainly the area of the pitch where PSG are in need of an upgrade.
But to make more matters complicated for the former Borussia Dortmund manager, Adrien Rabiot has recently refused to sign a new contract and Tuchel has since suggested that the 23-year old has played his last match for Paris-Saint-Germain. A move away from the French capital looks likely to follow for the midfielder and Barcelona appear to be the obvious choice as they look for a long-term replacement for the decorated Sergio Busquets – who continues to show no signs of slowing down.
Rabiot’s departure would leave Tuchel with just one natural central midfielder in Marco Verratti and given the Italian’s track record with injury as of late, that simply is not enough. Julian Weigl, Abdoulaye Doucoure and even Idrissa Gueye have all been linked with a move to the French capital to replace the 23-year old, but Tuchel has remained silent on the situation. The German manager has stressed the importance of focusing on the players he currently has at his disposal in recent weeks, but that hasn’t stopped the speculation about a big money move for a new player. That being said, it appears that all the speculation may just be speculation after all. Although a reunion with his former manager would be nice, Julian Weigl looks unlikely to move away from Borussia Dortmund, especially given the club’s current challenge for the Bundesliga title. Idrissa Gueye meanwhile would be a pick out of left field and at 29-years old is closer to the twilight of his career rather than the zenith. Abdoulaye Doucoure appears to be the likeliest candidate to fill the void and has enjoyed a solid season so far under Javi Gracia. The Spanish manager has been very open in recent weeks about Watford’s ability to replace the 26-year old should he decide to leave. Gracia has also hinted that a bid in the region of 50-million pounds would also be simply too good to pass up. However, the asking price of 50-million is a bit outrageous and reports have it that Les Parisiens are unlikely to follow through with a deal for that much money.
Whether it’s Doucoure, Weigl, Gueye or someone already in their squad, one thing is for sure – Paris Saint Germain need a new defensive midfielder. So what do you think Tuchel and PSG should do? Should they splash the cash on a new player right now when seemingly none of the options are that great? Should they recall Giovani Lo Celso or re-open up contract negotiations with Adrien Rabiot again? Or should they wait until the summer to make a move for a new star? Feel free to share your thoughts below.
Thanks for reading and see you next time!