Big things were expected of Lucas Moura immediately after his arrival at Paris Saint-Germain in January. Although he has not quite lived up to those expectations just yet, through no fault of his own, the signs are there to suggest that he will be a big hit next season.
His first half-season with the capital club has been hit by injuries, but PSG have surely seen enough from the Brazilian to be confident that he will grow in confidence at the Parc des Princes. Already a champion, of course, after helping to seal the club’s first French title in 19 years, Moura has an encouraging semi-campaign to build on for next season.
Immediately after arriving from Sao Paulo in January, the Brazilian usurped Jeremy Menez for a space in the first team, despite the Frenchman having been a regular first-team selection. It quickly became evident why because, despite the fact that he is only 20 years old, his ability still makes him a natural first-team starter.
He had been expected to begin his PSG career on the bench, slowly introduced to the first team over the remainder of the season. However, after making his debut in a goalless draw with Ajaccio in early January, a month later he was starting a Champions League last 16 tie with Valencia and running the show.
That was on the back of a good start to life in Ligue 1, bagging three assists inside his first five games, shining particularly brightly in a 4-0 away win at Toulouse. He was stripped of his first goal for the club; a deflected strike against bitter rivals Marseille (credited as a Nicolas N'Koulou own goal) on David Beckham’s debut. But his impact was already being felt on the pitch as he drove PSG to some early 2013 victories.
It also became evident fairly quickly that Moura was not fully fit. Coming off the back of a Brazilian club season that finished in December, having won the Copa Sudamericana as he’d hoped to before leaving, the Selecao star linked up with PSG in Doha for their winter training break.
Instead of being rested, though, Carlo Ancelotti threw him into first-team action immediately to gauge how long it would take the Samba sensation to adapt. "No time at all" was the answer.
Despite his debut against Ajaccio finishing goalless, his performance individually was impressive. Some superb dribbling and a demonstration of his raw pace punctuated an energetic, purposeful display against the Corsicans.
That showing carried over into his next game, the muted 1-0 win over Bordeaux, played in the most difficult of circumstances. Following the death of Head of Performance Nick Broad, new arrival Moura provided Zlatan Ibrahimovic with the game’s only goal in an emotional match when PSG were forced to play against their wishes.
From then on, the Brazilian has been a first-team regular when fit, but it was obvious from his reaction when substituted in early April against Troyes that his niggling injury problems had not subsided.
With the summer break just one game away, Moura will have to wait to finally get that rest to recharge his batteries adequately.
The youngster has been selected in Felipe Scolari’s Confederations Cup squad so will be busy until the end of June, assuming that he stays fit for the entirety of the tournament.
PSG will have to wait until next season to see the best of him, though, after an inconsistent but encouraging start.
Speaking to ESPN upon his arrival, he talked about his bold desire to become the world’s best player in the French capital. If the club’s ambitious project continues its upwards trajectory, this will be possible in time if Moura continues to improve and can start scoring goals in Ligue 1.
A lot of that potential success, though, will depend on the future of coach Carlo Ancelotti who has spoken of his desire to join Real Madrid, according to ESPN. The Italian has been a big factor in PSG’s success this season and a bigger factor in the immediate impact of some big-name arrivals, most notably Ibrahimovic, Moura and Thiago Silva.
His exit would have a serious impact on those players’ comfort in the French capital, at least in the short term.
Moura can be pleased with his first five months in Paris; he has adapted quickly and become an important member of the PSG first team. But next season, more will be expected of him for both club and country as the capital club are expected to make a bigger splash on the European stage and Brazil gear up for a World Cup assault on home soil.
The Brazilian will be expected to have a big impact on both fronts.