Paris Saint-Germain’s Marquinhos continues to struggle to find early pre-season form after a dreadful performance in the French champions' 4-2 friendly defeat to German 2. Bundesliga outfit RasenBallsport Leipzig on Friday.
While it is only pre-season and nothing too serious should be made of form at this stage, the talented 20-year-old and current central-defensive partner Zoumana Camara will be PSG’s centre-back pairing for at least the Trophee des Champions and the opening game of the season away at Stade de Reims.
Between them, they have conceded seven goals in the past two games.
All summer long, Marquinhos has been linked with a move to Spanish giants Barcelona, and the Catalan club were even believed to have had an offer for the Brazilian rejected in late June per Sport (h/t International Business Times’ Raquel Velez Garcia).
In all likeliness, that is where he will stay too. PSG are understandably loath to part with a player that they shelled out €32 million for 12 months ago per ESPN FC.
While the Marquinhos speculation will likely continue until the end of the transfer window, Les Parisiens and coach Laurent Blanc are planning for the future with him and—immediately at least—he will have an important role to play.
Captain Thiago Silva and new arrival David Luiz are not expected to report back for duty for another week or so yet, so it will be Marquinhos and the veteran Camara to line up against EA Guingamp in the Trophee des Champions clash in Beijing and the Ligue 1 opener away at Reims.
Based on last season and this campaign’s early form, such responsibility will provide the Brazilian international with a challenge.
Despite possessing impressive ability and being highly versatile, Marquinhos still has a lot to learn.
While his belief that he is ready for regular first-team football at the highest level is admirable, the fact remains that he is still a work in progress. PSG were right to move for another senior defender to replace Alex—who has since joined AC Milan.
Barcelona’s rebuffed interest is perhaps playing on Marquinhos’ mind a little this summer, but the Selecao star should take stock of what he achieved last season. Considering that the previous year with AS Roma was his first as an established first-choice player, he played regularly enough domestically and in Europe to be satisfied.
Marquinhos featured 21 times in Ligue 1 alone, also sampling UEFA Champions League and French domestic cup action. His eagerness, while understandable, does not necessarily mean that he is ready to be a regular starter alongside Silva or Luiz, though.
Last season, he featured alongside Alex or Silva whenever one of the pair was injured, and he performed well when called upon. However, it was not difficult for him to look calm and composed, with maturity beyond his years alongside two such vastly experienced defenders.
The test for Marquinhos is when he is paired with a declining force in Camara, or alongside Luiz, Alex’s replacement—who showed at the FIFA World Cup that he is not the most reassuring of partners—in the coming campaign.
To say that the Brazilian is thoroughly ready to be a reliable first-team option—in Paris, Barcelona or anywhere else—is not accurate just yet. Marquinhos still has a lot to learn and needs to be patient for the next season or so.
There is no doubt that, in time, the youngster will go on to be one of the world’s best in his position. He could even be ready to step up into Blanc’s starting XI as early as next season. However, he needs to continue to wait patiently for that chance.
Pre-season form counts for little, but in PSG’s case it's a taste of what to expect until the French champions’ broken Brazilians—Silva, Luiz and Maxwell—return to action early in the season.
Playing alongside Camara, Marquinhos’ naivety will continue to be exposed. However, the experience will be good for him long-term, because it will make him a better player.
Lining up alongside Silva or Alex has not necessarily developed him as much as many would think.
Because of that, Marquinhos is better off staying with PSG—where his coach believes in him—and accepting that he has work to do before considering himself the finished article.
Blanc making him captain during Les Parisien’s opening pre-season friendly, a 3-0 win over TSV Hartberg, shows that Le President recognises strong leadership qualities in the Brazilian.
Another big-money move at this point would just put Marquinhos under even greater pressure to perform immediately. While, on current evidence, there is plenty still to work on.