With the January transfer window now open, French champions Paris Saint-Germain are expected to once again feature heavily.
The Ligue 1 leaders are currently fighting on four fronts domestically and in Europe.
However, while they already possess a squad of considerable depth, that strength is being tested at present by a number of injuries and the occasional suspension.
It is almost certain that Laurent Blanc will have to enter the transfer market at least once to reinforce his side ahead of a league and Champions League push.
Considering some of the players PSG are rumoured to be courting, international stars who will have more options available to them than just the defending Championnat title holders, some high profile transfers could be brought forward to January in order to secure them.
Here are a few of the players linked with the side from the French capital this month.
Arguably the biggest name on Blanc’s potential shortlist this month is that of Chelsea’s Spanish star Juan Mata.
However, it is thought that the French giants are the most capable of putting together an acceptable bid that would prove enticing enough to convince Jose Mourinho to grudgingly part with the former Valencia CF man.
Considering the uncertain future of Ezequiel Lavezzi in Paris and Lucas Moura’s frustration at a lack of regular playing time, a space could potentially open up in the PSG ranks.
Jeremy Menez has pledged his immediate future to the club, per L’Equipe (h/t ESPN FC), but he is far from certain to be at the Parc des Princes next season.
Lavezzi has failed to convince on the pitch this term, despite scoring in Wednesday’s 5-2 Coupe de France win at Stade Brestois 29, and his recent admission of uncertainty over his future to Le Parisien (h/t ESPN FC) has raised further questions.
There is no doubt Mata would fit into this PSG side. But it would be unfair on Moura, who has been far more impressive than Lavezzi this season, if the Spaniard were to swan in ahead of him this month.
Mata would also be cup tied in the Champions League, meaning that the move has little real sense for PSG prior to the summer. By that time, a transfer may have lost its appeal for Mata who would know whether or not he is in Spain’s plans for the FIFA World Cup.
Perhaps a more realistic alternative for PSG is Real Sociedad’s French starlet Antoine Griezmann.
According to AS (h/t football-espana.net) prior to Christmas, the attacking talent is the subject of intense interest from PSG.
The report was then added to on Thursday with AS reporting that La Real president Jokin Aperribay had returned from a trip to Paris with an adviser, speculating that it was to enter talks with PSG regarding a potential deal.
Griezmann would certainly fit the bill for the French champions. Not only is he just 22 years old, he is also a potential star for Les Bleus.
Although his ability commands a regular starting position, the Frenchman would be unlikely to walk straight into the PSG side ahead of the deserving Moura. That is also assuming that Lavezzi is the player to make way.
The potential January deal could include Griezmann staying in San Sebastian until the end of the season, a solution that would suit all parties.
Griezmann fits the bill for PSG in every way, even more so than Mata. However, he too is cup tied because of Sociedad’s Champions League involvement this season.
Securing the French star now, but allowing him to finish the season in Donostia, would be an ideal solution.
It would also give Lavezzi, Moura and Menez time to fully state their claims to remain at the Parc des Princes.
According to FIFA agent Ernesto Bronzetti (h/t Canal Supporters—translated from French as a bilingual), the intermediary between PSG and Real Madrid in Carlo Ancelotti’s move to the Spanish giants, Paul Pogba’s move to the French capital is an inevitability.
The big question is whether or not another team can prevent the French champions from securing the Juventus star and if PSG will move for him this month or not.
Serie A giants Juve now face an uphill task in convincing Pogba, who was born in Paris, to stay past the end of the season.
The 20-year-old is of the perfect profile for PSG: young, French and a potential world-class talent (arguably close already), but there is no shortage of interest in the senior international.
Despite being cup tied in the Champions League, a deal could be struck this month to ensure that no other club get their hands on Pogba.
It does seem a question of when, and not if, Pogba joins PSG.
But, considering that he would be ineligible for the latter stages of the Champions League, a similar move to the one mentioned for Griezmann would make the most sense.
There is little for PSG to gain in breaking up their current three-man midfield for the sake of accommodating Pogba in the league and domestic cups. There is also still an excellent chance that the team can go very far in Europe without him.
Instead, allowing Pogba to finish the season in Serie A, but securing him this month, would make more sense for the French champions.
Perhaps the most pressing issue for PSG in this transfer window is to increase their options at right-back.
Following Christophe Jallet’s recent surgery on a back problem, similar to the one that kept Menez out for a number of months last summer, the Daily Mail report that the capital club are keen on Tottenham Hotspur’s England international Kyle Walker.
The 23-year-old has also been touted as a possible target for PSG’s Ligue 1 rivals AS Monaco in recent weeks according to the Independent.
While the Spurs man is not currently cup tied and would be eligible for Champions League action immediately, it could turn out to be a costly move for Blanc with the North London club set to demand a massive fee.
A cheaper, and perhaps more realistic option who would be happier with a squad rotation system, would be FC Sochaux-Montbeliard’s talented French right-back Sebastien Corchia.
However, the 23-year-old is also the subject of interest from Lille OSC.
Toulouse’s Serge Aurier is another possibility, although less likely to accept a bit-part role, while Le Parisien (h/t Canal Supporters in French) claim Feyenoord’s Dutch international Daryl Janmaat is also an option.
While there is little doubt that PSG will move for a right-back at some point this month, the chances of Walker moving to Paris are slim.
Firstly, the English international recently signed a new contract and secondly, the chances of him moving pre-World Cup with no guarantee of first-team football are little to none.
While players of similar or better potential ability are available for less money in Le Championnat, PSG would be foolish to spend a big amount on a player who is not likely to significantly enhance Blanc’s squad.
Corchia and Aurier are more realistic in a squad sense and better value for money.
As well as being domestic talents (Aurier holds a French passport), both have considerable potential ability but would not command an instant starting role.