Shortly after their 2-1 win over Ligue 1 rivals OGC Nice in their friendly clash in Beziers on Wednesday, Paris Saint-Germain announced the signing of Toulouse and Cote d’Ivoire right-back Serge Aurier. According to the French champions’ official announcement of the deal on PSG.fr, the 21-year-old arrives on a season-long loan with an obligation to buy the player at the end of that spell.
"To play for Paris Saint-Germain, with the exceptional players this club has, is a dream come true. I will give my maximum to help the club reach the summits,” the Ivorian told PSG.fr upon penning his contract. “After taking part in the World Cup for the first time, I am having a fantastic summer. I would like to thank the club for the confidence they have shown in me.”
The move ends the Ligue 1 titleholders’ drawn-out pursuit of the FIFA World Cup star, who had been attracting the attention of English Premier League side Arsenal earlier in the summer, per International Business Times' Eduardo Fernandez-Abascal. However, the loan aspect of it was something of a surprise.
It appears that PSG have identified a way to navigate their UEFA Financial Fair Play sanctions, by utilising loan deals but agreeing to buy the player outright at the end of that loan. According to The Express’ Jamie Anderson, Laurent Blanc’s side are currently trying the same with Real Madrid for want-away Argentine Angel Di Maria.
Overall, the Aurier deal is a smart move.
Not only are PSG getting a very talented player and another very attack-minded full-back to go with the likes of positional rival Gregory van der Wiel and French international left-back Lucas Digne, they are also getting a player that they can develop into one of the world’s best at his position.
10 - Serge Aurier is involved in 10 goals (4 goals, 6 assists) more than any other defender in the Top 4 European leagues + L1 2013/14. Top.— OptaJean (@OptaJean) March 10, 2014
Aurier’s potential is such that he is capable of going on to be a top talent while already being a considerable asset with his current ability.
Crucially, the former Toulouse man is also a player that PSG needed.
While Les Parisiens might want Di Maria to add some creativity in the attacking third, they needed a new right-back. Last season showed Blanc that it was a position in need of upgrading because of the injury problems endured by Van der Wiel and French international Christophe Jallet.
The latter, PSG’s former captain, departed for Olympique Lyonnais shortly before the club confirmed the signing of Aurier, according to PSG.fr's tribute to their former No. 26. However, Van der Wiel has struggled with a knee problem since March and recently had to miss the capital club’s pre-season training camp in Austria to undergo intensive specialist treatment in the Netherlands, per PSG.fr.
Because of that, there was a big question mark over whether or not the 26-year-old will be fit enough to start the season. With Jallet no longer seen as a suitable alternative, Aurier arrives to put pressure on Van der Wiel once he is fit again and to try to make the starting right-back position his own.
PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi was also delighted with the capture of the Ivorian talent.
"Serge Aurier, one of the most promising young players in world football, courted by the biggest clubs, has chosen Paris Saint-Germain to continue to shine on the European stage,” he told PSG.fr. “We are delighted to welcome this young player into our team.”
Considering that Van der Wiel featured from the start for PSG against Nice in Beziers, it appears that he is approaching full match fitness and will probably be expected to start the Ligue 1 champions’ upcoming Asian Tour as first choice right-back. However, any further problems and it will be Aurier that Blanc will be calling on to step up and play a key first-team role.
In time, the African has more than enough potential to usurp Van der Wiel as first choice right-back, even though the Dutchman was extremely good last season.
As an added bonus, Aurier already knows Paris well and will take little time to settle in. Despite being born in Ouaragahio in his native Cote d’Ivoire, the former RC Lens Youth Academy graduate—who qualifies as a domestically educated player—was raised in the Parisian suburbs and has family there still.
The large West African diaspora will also appreciate one of their own talents now plying his trade on their doorstep.
Although Toulouse will suffer as a result, losing a player of immense quality and failing to obtain a PSG talent such as last season’s loanee Clement Chantome in return, it is good for Ligue 1 that Les Parisiens can look within their domestic competition and invest in its talent.
Despite a number of other mooted targets, Aurier is the best possible option PSG could have gone for at right-back, and they can be very happy with their latest piece of business.