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Paris Saint-Germain: Full Report Card for Every Position for August

Andrew GibneyFeatured Columnist IIOctober 28, 2016

Paris Saint-Germain: Full Report Card for Every Position for August

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    Jacques Brinon/Associated Press

    They may not have finished on top of the Ligue 1 table come the end of August, but it has been a fairly good start for Paris Saint-Germain this season. The report card for PSG’s first month is full of more positives than negatives, but there is definite room for improvement.

    Marking the PSG players on their performances during August will be based on their overall contributions and individual moments of magic. It has been a steady start, with Laurent Blanc having only used 17 players at this stage of the season.

    Blanc’s campaign got off to a shaky start in a 2-2 draw away at Stade de Reims. PSG had to come from behind on the opening day, and it took the ability of Zlatan Ibrahimovic to help overcome Reims for a point.

    Their first home game ended in a victory, but the 2-0 win over Bastia was overshadowed by Brazilian forward Brandao’s headbutt to Thiago Motta.

    Another draw, this time away at Evian, was a disappointment for the Parisians, but what did you expect when they were without their talisman, Ibrahimovic?

    The Swedish striker made his point in the final game of Week 4. Starting the game less than 100 per cent fit, the 32-year-old left the pitch after 73 minutes with a hat-trick and having given the rest of the league a warning.

    Ibrahimovic and PSG will get better as the season continues, which is a horrible thought for the rest of Ligue 1.

    Here is PSG’s full report card for every position for August.

Goalkeepers

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    Jacques Brinon/Associated Press

    Salvatore Sirigu

    The Italian goalkeeper is the only stopper to have featured for PSG so far this season, and since conceding two goals in the opening game against Reims, he has been flawless in the three games thereafter.

    In the three games that he has kept a clean sheet, he has made two saves per game, according to WhoScored.com. Against Saint-Etienne, he made a couple of important stops when the game was still close.

    When PSG need him most, Sirigu is usually there to answer the call. When PSG struggle, Sirigu is there to make sure the situation doesn’t get any worse.

    His standout moment thus far was his late save against Evian when he tipped Nicolas Benezet’s shot over the bar to deny a certain goal.

    Grade: B+

     

    Nicolas Douchez

    The veteran French goalkeeper has been on the bench for all of PSG’s games this season, but without injury to Sirigu, he will have to wait until the domestic cup matches to make an appearance.

    Grade: D+

     

    Mike Maignan

    Strangely, even with Sirigu and Douchez ahead of him, Maignan has made one appearance on the bench this season.

    Against Reims, Blanc named both Douchez and Maignan in his 18-man squad. The 19-year-old will remain third choice this season.

    Grade: D

Right-Backs

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    Victor Fraile/Getty Images

    Gregory van der Wiel

    He finished last season as PSG’s first-choice right-back, and he has continued where he left off this season.

    Despite picking up a back injury against Bastia in Week 2, the Dutch defender has only missed one game, regaining his place for the home game against Saint-Etienne for which he was supposedly a doubt.

    Before he had to be replaced against Bastia, it was Van der Wiel’s beautiful cross that picked out Lucas Moura for PSG’s opening home goal of the season. Laurent Blanc will be hoping for more of the same as the season continues.

    Grade: B-

     

    Serge Aurier

    After making the loan move from Toulouse, Serge Aurier has only started one game so far this season, but that was to be expected in the early part of the campaign.

    His start came in the 0-0 draw away at Evian, add in 44 minutes he played against Bastia when Van der Wiel had to come off, and it has been a bright start to the Ivorian’s PSG career.

    Many expect him to eventually overtake his Dutch teammate, but as he is five years his junior, Aurier is likely to play the long game and grow into his position in Paris.

    Grade: C

Left-Backs

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    Michel Euler/Associated Press

    Lucas Digne

    France international defender Lucas Digne didn’t take as long of a break as some of his international teammates after the World Cup in Brazil. He did play some minutes for France this summer, but he felt he had to hit the ground running to try and replace Maxwell as Blanc’s first-choice left-back.

    So far it has worked, and Digne has started in three of PSG’s four games this month. He was dropped to the bench against Saint-Etienne, but at 21, Blanc still has to be careful with the full-back with long season ahead.

    Expect Digne to improve his influence over this team as the weeks and months pass and gain some excellent experience once the Champions League group stage gets underway.

    Grade: B-

     

    Maxwell

    Veteran Brazilian left-back Maxwell came back into PSG’s starting line-up against Saint-Etienne in Week 4 and went about showing Blanc that he was still up to the task.

    The former Inter and Barcelona defender provided Zlatan Ibrahimovic with his first and PSG’s second goal before helping make it 4-0, providing the ammunition for Edinson Cavani.

    Maxwell is one player who gives Blanc a performance whenever he calls on him. He is the perfect squad player and one of PSG’s most important players.

    Grade: B-

Centre-Backs

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    Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images

    Marquinhos

    Due to the injury to Thiago Silva and David Luiz’s late return from World Cup duty, 20-year-old Marquinhos has played every minute of PSG’s four league games so far.

    It was rumoured that he would be leaving Paris this summer, with Barcelona heavily linked with a move for the Brazilian, via Alex Fenn of Goal.com. But PSG convinced him to stay and Blanc is reaping the rewards.

    Marquinhos has grown up after these four games, and according to WhoScored.com, no one has made more interceptions in the PSG line-up than the young defender. He has also only committed one foul over the four games.

    It will be hard to leave him out once Thiago Silva returns to full fitness.

    Grade: A-

     

    David Luiz

    It may just be a coincidence, but since David Luiz took his place in the PSG defence, they have yet to concede a league goal.

    Evian and Bastia may not have been the toughest tests—and there will be some harder games to come—but you can only play against what is in front of you, and so far David Luiz has settled in nicely.

    He hasn’t been as involved as Marquinhos, but only one player has been able to dribble by him (via WhoScored.com) and he has held the line well, winning more offside decisions than the rest of the defence.

    More is yet to come from the former Chelsea defender, but it’s been an ideal start to life in a new league and a new country.

    Grade: B+

     

    Thiago Silva

    After only a handful of training sessions and a late return from his exploits in Brazil, it was a surprise that PSG’s captain started against Reims on the opening day.

    He played the full 90 minutes and went on to start in the friendly match against Napoli. The thigh injury he picked up in Italy has kept him out of the following three league games, but there is hope he may return after the international break.

    Blanc will want to be cautious with how quickly he brings Thiago Silva back into the starting line-up. The performances of Marquinhos and David Luiz give him the option to keep Silva wrapped in cotton wool until he is 100 per cent.

    Grade: C-

     

    Zoumana Camara

    Veteran centre-back Zoumana Camara is the only other centre-back to appear on the bench this season.

    He has yet to feature on the pitch, but he will be happy enough to play the role of third- or fourth-choice centre-back for the rest of the season.

    Grade: D-

Central Midfielders

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    Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images

    Marco Verratti

    There was a chance that Italian midfielder Marco Verratti was going to be the player that gave way for Frenchman Yohan Cabaye this season, but the 21-year-old has used Cabaye’s late return to training to start the season off in style.

    Verratti has played all but three minutes of PSG’s season so far and has provided two assists, one of them a wonderful over-the-top pass to set up Edinson Cavani’s goal against Bastia.

    Blanc will find it hard to replace the Italian at this point of the season. The French coach will hope that Verratti can continued this form into 2015 and beyond.

    Grade: B+

     

    Thiago Motta

    He may have been left out of the Italy squad for the upcoming international matches, but Thiago Motta has been going about his business for PSG this season, just as he did in the last campaign.

    Apart from the goalless draw against Evian, which he missed due to the injury he suffered at the hands of Bastia striker Brandao, he has played every minute in PSG's three-man midfield this season.

    Only fellow midfielder Verratti has made more passes than Motta, and the Brazil-born Italy international is an integral part of Blanc’s system. If he stays fit, he should play over 30 games this season.

    Grade: B

     

    Blaise Matuidi

    After receiving an extended break this summer following the World Cup, Blaise Matuidi has only just started to return to the first-team picture.

    He was brought into the midfield against Evian due to Thiago Motta’s absence, playing the full 90 minutes. Against Saint-Etienne at the Parc des Princes, Matuidi started on the bench but played the last 17 minutes.

    As the weeks pass, Matuidi’s influence in the midfield will begin to grow.

    Grade: C-

     

    Yohan Cabaye

    It has definitely not been the ideal start to the season for Yohan Cabaye. After joining in January and playing for his country in Brazil, the midfielder was hoping to win a regular place in Blanc’s three-man midfield.

    He was a used sub against Bastia, and then got his chance to start when PSG travelled to play Evian. It didn’t go according to plan.

    Unable to create any real chances, the frustration crept in and Cabaye saw red for two yellow cards. He will be hoping September is a lot better than August.

    Grade: D

     

    Clement Chantome

    One of the PSG players from the pre-Qatari era, with the wealth of options available ahead of him, it’s not surprise that Clement Chantome has only played three minutes of football this month.

    Grade: D-

     

    Adrien Rabiot

    Adrien Rabiot was meant to be the future of the PSG midfield, but it looks like he is set to move on before the end of the transfer window, reports Alex Richards of the Mirror.

    A mixture of transfer rumours and a foot injury has stopped Rabiot playing any minutes this season, and it seems like it is his mother who is forcing a move away from the Parisian capital, as described by Jonathan Johnson on BeIN Sport.

    Grade: F

Wingers

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    Michel Spingler/Associated Press

    Lucas Moura

    He would have been disappointed at missing out on Brazil’s World Cup campaign, but it could be working to Lucas Moura’s advantage.

    He has played a pivotal role in the early stages of PSG’s season. He scored the opening goal at the Parc des Princes against Bastia, volleying home a Van der Wiel cross.

    Against Evian, even though PSG didn’t score, Lucas was behind the best chances they had—especially the chance he set up for Cavani in the second half.

    The game against Saint-Etienne was the first 90 minutes he completed this season. With every month that passes, Lucas is growing in confidence. Slowly but surely, he is becoming a valuable member of Blanc’s first XI.

    Grade: B-

     

    Ezequiel Lavezzi

    Despite a bright end to the 2013-14 season, Ezequiel Lavezzi’s days as a PSG player look to be ending before the transfer window shuts.

    The Argentine winger hasn’t featured for the Ligue 1 champions since the 2-0 win over Bastia, and against Saint-Etienne, he was completely removed from the playing squad.

    Inter Milan have been linked with a move for Lavezzi, via Football Italia. After Blanc left him out of the squad, it only served to put fuel on the fire regarding his future.

    He hasn’t started a game for PSG this season, and it looks like he may have played his last game for the club.

    Grade: D

     

    Jean-Christophe Bahebeck

    After an excellent pre-season, it was expected that Jean-Christophe Bahebeck would play more of the role this campaign. He started all four games on the bench but only played for 35 minutes over two appearances.

    He hasn’t quite had the time to make an impact, but as the season continues and PSG’s calendar expands, Bahebeck’s chances will come.

    Grade: D-

     

    Hervin Ongenda

    The 19-year-old has only featured on the bench once so far this season, and it looks like he will be spending the season away from the French capital.

    He has been linked with loan moves to Bastia, via L’Equipe (in French), and Reims, reports L’Equipe (in French), but neither move seems to suit his parent club.

    Ongenda is at a stage of his career when he needs to play regular football to develop further. It will be interesting to see if he is still at the club past Monday’s deadline.

    Grade: E+

No. 10s

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    Michel Euler/Associated Press

    Javier Pastore

    If Zlatan Ibrahimovic hadn’t gone and scored a hat-trick against Saint-Etienne on Sunday, Javier Pastore would have easily won the award for PSG’s best player during August.

    It has been a fantastic sight to see, there isn't much better than watching a confident Pastore in full flight.

    He has played in a few different positions so far, but playing in PSG’s three-man midfield, he has the freedom to find space between the opposition and the time to create opportunities.

    Pastore is one of four players to have played every minute this season, and he opened the campaign with two assists in the 2-2 draw with Reims. Evian away has been his poorest performance to date this season, but no one from that PSG team came away from Annecy with much credit.

    Influential again against Saint-Etienne on Sunday, it is a breath of fresh air to finally see glimpses of the Pastore everyone in Ligue 1 is hoping he can still be.

    Grade: A-

Centre-Forwards

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    Michel Euler/Associated Press

    Edinson Cavani

    PSG may only have two centre-forwards, but in Edinson Cavani and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, it’s not a bad duo to have.

    Cavani has played every minute of every league game so far this season and popped up with two goals.

    However, his performances have been far from exemplary. Against Evian, without Ibrahimovic, he was a bit-part player. Lucas found him in an excellent position in the second half, though it was clear Cavani was lacking in confidence—the finish showed as much.

    Cavani may not want to admit it, but he plays better when Ibrahimovic is in the side pulling and pushing the defence around and making holes for Cavani to run into.

    Grade: B-

     

    Zlatan Ibrahimovic

    There is only one A+ performer in the PSG squad, and against Saint-Etienne, supposedly less than 100 per cent fit, he showed why PSG miss him so much when he’s out.

    Scoring a hat-trick took his season tally to five after just three games, and Ligue 1 sits and watches in awe at the amazingly talented Swede.

    The best example of how much a player means to a team is when they fall apart without him. Without Zlatan against Evian, PSG struggled. Bring him back and everything is on fire.

    Minutes-wise he’s scored five goals in two matches, as he didn’t play against Evian and was an substituted early on against Bastia after suffering an injury. He's scored five goals in 179 minutes to be exact—that’s a goal every 36 minutes.

    Sometimes he is unstoppable, the other times he’s not playing.

    Grade: A+

Coach

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    Michel Euler/Associated Press

    Laurent Blanc

    The French coach hasn’t had much to do in the opening few games of the season. Injuries have hampered his selections, and for a team blessed with an embarrassment of riches, he doesn’t actually have much to play with.

    All his changes are usually like for like, and his system rarely changes from 4-3-3. Blanc’s challenges are going to come when Cavani makes noises about playing out wide, or when one of the four central midfielders is not happy about being on the bench.

    Only once he has to juggle his playing squad when the Champions League takes its toll will we see how much Blanc has developed over the last 12 months.

    Grade: C

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