Where Will Marquinhos Fit in at PSG?
After the saga that became Edinson Cavani’s record-breaking move to Paris Saint-Germain from Napoli, the capital club’s next raid on Serie A threatened to follow suit.
At half the price, it might be added.
Roma defender Marquinhos becomes the third player signed by PSG this week as the French champions continue a sweeping assault on the European transfer market.
The 19-year-old joins from the Italian capital’s red half for a whopping fee of almost 35 million Euros (h/t ESPN FC)—unheard of for a teenager.
However, few outside Serie A know of this expensive, brace-wearing Brazilian.
The Giallorossi were not in the Champions League or even the Europa League last season, so for a player who has only played one season of first team football to command such a price tag, he must be special.
In terms of style then, who is he comparable to?
Being Brazilian, the benchmark for all Selecao defenders is Marquinhos’ teammate in the French capital, Thiago Silva.
Like Silva, Marcos Aoas Correa to use his full name, he has phenomenal game-reading ability and remarkable composure for someone so young.
The difference between the two, however, is approximately a decade.
Marquinhos is an all-rounder. He is physical, imposing, a thinker and his athleticism helps him easily make up for any slip-ups that are natural for someone still learning their trade.
Initially, it was thought that PSG was buying a replacement for Thiago Silva should he join Barcelona (h/t ESPN FC).
But with that now looking unlikely, the French champions have the 28-year-old and his next in line in the same team.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that Marquinhos will automatically be first choice at the Parc des Princes though.
Following his addition, new coach Laurent Blanc has Mamadou Sakho, Alex and the young samba sensation to choose from.
Bearing in mind his lack of continental experience, it is difficult to imagine him waltzing into the PSG first team despite his considerable price tag.
Instead, it is likely that the capital club will use this season as a grooming exercise, possibly deploying him at right back from time to time, a position he also played in for Roma.
Blanc has a problem on his hands—Sakho is ready to partner Silva as the side’s first choice centre-back pairing, but should his position from last season not change, he will grudgingly seek a transfer (h/t ESPN FC).
This is something PSG can ill-afford, given their already low level of domestic representation despite the arrival of Digne earlier in the week (h/t ESPN FC).
With so much talent on their hands, the defending Ligue 1 champions are running the risk of making some of their star-studded squad unhappy.
Especially in defence.
With this signing, PSG have achieved their goal of having two or more players for each position.
Competition is high, as it should be for any team with high ambitions.
But PSG’s immediate goals include a Champions League challenge over the coming four seasons.
Now with the arrival of Marquinhos and the others, the squad could arguably even cope with the loss of talismanic duo Silva and Zlatan Ibrahimovic should the pair leave after the coming campaign.
Keeping Silva, and then going to the negotiating table to not only challenge Barcelona but to succeed in snatching him from in the face of stern competition, is a massive statement of intent (h/t ESPN FC).
Significantly strengthening a backline that was solid last season with Marquinhos and Digne is a surprise move, but also an ambitious one.
Last year, the side only conceded 23 league goals and kept the same number of clean sheets, an astonishing feat.
Given Alphonse Areola’s heroics at the under-20 World Cup, Salvatore Sirigu already has a more than adequate protégé.
With the defence in even worse health now, who’d bet against the same happening in Europe sooner or later?
It is unrealistic to expect that Marquinhos will automatically become a starter for now, although the prospect of he and Silva creating a formidable partnership is enough to get many fans salivating.
But with the price tag comes the very real danger of over-expectation.
Despite his hideously inflated fee, he is still just 19 years old.
It is unreasonable to expect that, in spite of his undoubted world-class potential, he will just be able to take to Champions League football and fierce title challenges instantly.
Instead, a gradual breaking in this year, as PSG searches for domestic and European success is more likely with Marquinhos being groomed to either take over from or pair up with Silva in the coming seasons.
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