Paris Saint-Germain have become a member of the European elite in the last 12 months. Following a dominant domestic campaign in Ligue 1 and a decent run in the Champions League, narrowly falling to Chelsea in the quarter-final, all eyes (when not glued to the magnificent World Cup in Brazil) have been on the transfer market with PSG expected to be one of the big spenders once again.
Les Parisiens have made only one signing so far this summer, capturing the signature of David Luiz, who captained Brazil in the World Cup semi-final capitulation against Germany in the absence of his national and now club defensive partner, Thiago Silva.
With the arrival of Luiz, whose £50 million transfer constitutes a new world-record fee for a defender, there have been suggestions that Laurent Blanc has finally found the perfect partner for Silva at the heart of the French champions' defence. Naturally, the last week has led to a torrent of Luiz detractors emerging from the World Cup woodwork, and it seems there may be a need for more defensive investment at Parc des Princes.
With the World Cup over and Germany crowned champions, it is time for PSG to take stock of their current squad and to iron-out the problems that numerous positions have caused them over the last couple of seasons. One such recurring issue has been found at right-back, with the constant changing between the equally inconsistent Christophe Jallet and Gregory van der Wiel proving unsatisfactory for a club with ambitions of claiming Europe’s top prize.
According to French outlet L’Equipe, PSG are closing in on what may well be their best signing of the summer, as Blanc is reportedly in advanced talks with Toulouse and Serge Aurier over a €9 million deal that will also see Clement Chantome move in the opposite direction. Bleacher Report's very own PSG expert, Jonathan Johnson, reported on Twitter, however, that La Depeche du Midi are reporting an €11 million fee if Chantome is not involved in the transfer.
This is not simply a signing of convenience, despite the Sport365.fr report that former club captain Jallet looks set to complete a move to Olympique Lyonnais, but one that will finally strengthen Les Parisiens in an area of the pitch that has been perpetually deficient.
Aurier offers every characteristic that a top-class modern full-back must: His pace, power and formidable crossing technique are all vital to making the Ivory Coast international an important asset to PSG going forward.
His performances in Brazil were an ineluctable highlight of the Ivorian campaign, as he carried his club form onto the world stage and garnered interest from various top clubs, including Arsenal.
Indeed, WhoScored.com noted in May that his direct contribution to Toulouse in terms of goals and assists last season established him as the best attacking defender in Europe’s top five leagues, the 21- year-old involved in 12 goals (six goals and six assists).
However, attacking threat is only one facet of Aurier’s game. In reality, it is his capacity to read the game that is most notable and the attribute that truly sets him apart from the majority of attacking full-backs in world football. Averaging 2.8 tackles and 2.2 interceptions per game in 2013/14, via WhoScored.com, Aurier could be the perfect counterbalance to Luiz’s marauding tendencies, particularly as the Ivorian can fill in at centre-back as well.
In spite of the countless diatribes spread across the world’s media about Luiz's and Silva’s frailties at the World Cup, they will form an excellent centre-back pairing for Paris Saint-Germain. For Luiz Felipe Scolari’s Brazil, the two appeared frankly gung ho and complacent in their attitude defensively, which may have more to do with their irrepressible thirst for success at their home nation’s World Cup than anything else.
There will not be the same concern under Blanc’s guidance. Given time, Blanc will be able to instil his own defensive strategy, and the French disciplinarian might just be the right man to curb Luiz’s rash displays.
Aurier’s addition is imperative, as he represents perhaps the most exciting young talent among a dying breed of full-backs who can actually attack and defend. Of course, with the installation of two new players within the back four, PSG ought to expect a transition period during which the players will grow into a strong unit. Once a mutual understanding is established, the French champions look set to boast one of the most athletic, threatening and impenetrable defences in Europe.