Since being taken over by Qatar Sports Investments, Lucas Moura is second only to Edinson Cavani in a list of Paris Saint-Germain’s most expensive signings. Snatched from under the noses of Manchester United, according to agent Wagner Ribeiro, as reported by ESPN FC, the Brazilian international has struggled to live up to his €45 million price tag since arriving in January.
Laurent Blanc’s switch to a 4-3-3 formation from Carlo Ancelotti’s more accommodating 4-2-2-2 has not helped, but is Moura already turning into a flop in the French capital?
In 17 league matches, the Selecao star has contributed just one goal and three assists, despite the immense promise shown in his time with Sao Paulo FC before joining PSG.
Although it may seem a bit premature to brand a 21-year-old who is still adapting to a new continent and style of play a failure, Moura is struggling to even feature meaningfully for Blanc’s side at present.
That point was underlined, once again, on Saturday in PSG’s 2-0 home win over Toulouse.
Despite playing for 79 minutes, Moura did little of note aside from a few extravagant flashes of skill that led nowhere, despite temporarily dazzling fans. This has become customary from the Brazilian who struggles massively to regularly impose himself on games.
It is not just with PSG where he is struggling to have an impact, though.
His progress with the Brazilian national team has completely stalled, too. Despite still being a part of Luiz Felipe Scolari’s Brazil teams in preparation for the World Cup, his claims to those call-ups are becoming more and more tenuous.
The parallels between Moura and PSG teammate Javier Pastore, another player struggling to find his best form in the capital, are obvious.
Both moved to France for grossly inflated fees, despite being relatively unproven. The weight of expectation on the pair has been massive and, to a degree, crushed the players.
However, Pastore has been given far more time and patience than Moura has experienced so far. That is largely down to the Argentine’s status as one of PSG’s first big-name signings in the QSI era. The Brazilian should get the same treatment, though, as he has not even been at the club for a full year yet.
Injury has also played a part in hampering his early career in Paris, derailing a promising start to life in the French capital just as he was coming into form domestically and in the Champions League. After getting injured during PSG’s 2-1 win at the Mestalla in February, as reported by ESPN FC, the youngster was unable to fully recover before the end of the season.
Instead of going on holiday and taking some rest, though, bearing in mind that he came straight from the end of the Brazilian season to join the second half of PSG’s campaign, he was thrown straight into action.
Following the side from the French capital’s first title success in 19 years, he then went to play in the Confederations Cup before returning to Paris following a short break.
Moura is, arguably, still feeling the effects of that fatigue—hence some jaded performances at times. But the 4-3-3 system that Blanc is employing at present, as effective as it is results-wise, does not suit everybody.
The Samba star, along with Pastore, is suffering from being played in a position that does not allow him to fully express himself.
Against Toulouse, he was stranded out wide, with the majority of PSG’s play coming in the centre of the pitch. The only time that this has not happened this term was away at Bordeaux when Moura scored his first PSG goal and looked better than he has done at any point since the injury in Valencia.
Moura could be Blanc’s solution to PSG’s lack of central midfield creativity, but he needs to give the Brazilian the same chances that he has given Pastore to prove himself there. The versatile youngster is capable of playing anywhere across the front, but so far only seems to be considered a wide man.
It is futile comparing Moura to Pastore just yet, as the latter has enjoyed far more time and patience in trying to establish himself. A change of position would not harm the diminutive Brazilian’s chances and might even make PSG more entertaining as part of the bargain.
It is strange that Moura does not get more time in the middle, considering that his best performance for PSG came in a 4-0 win in Toulouse last season as he provided two goals. Marco Verratti, Thiago Motta and Blaise Matuidi are all capable of contributing going forward, but they do not possess the same creativity, direct approach or dribbling skills as Moura.
Is winning ugly and tempering the impact of a big-money signing like the Brazilian international really what PSG billionaire owners really want?
The fans will be happy following the victory over Toulouse that puts PSG at the top of Ligue 1, at least temporarily. But if given time and played in the right position, Moura could help PSG defend their league title in far more convincing fashion.