Paris Saint-Germain defender Marquinhos has confirmed he will weigh his options at the end of the season, opening the door for a possible transfer move to Manchester United or Barcelona.
The 21-year-old has long been linked with a move away from the club, due to the presence of compatriots David Luiz and Thiago Silva, and the fact he often has to play out of position or sit on the bench. Speaking to Le Parisien (h/t Daily Star's Marc Williams), he dropped a big hint he might leave if things don't change:
For now, I'm in Paris.
Everyone knows you have to have a reflection at the end of the season. We'll talk about the objectives of the club and of me personally.
Right now, I try to be professional. I try to work to win my place and to have playing time.
We'll see how the season will finish. Afterwards, there will be a reflection.
Per Giovanni Scotto of Gianlucadimarzio.com (translated by David Amoyal), Marquinhos didn't rule out staying with PSG during the same interview. His current deal won't run out until 2019.
The former AS Roma defender is a phenomenal talent who has impressed during his time in Ligue 1, but the duo of Luiz and Silva has proven difficult to break up. The two also team up for the national team and have bags of experience playing together, so it's only natural for PSG manager Laurent Blanc to continue to trust the two.
It's unfortunate for Marquinhos, who has barely put a foot wrong in the last few years. Per WhoScored.com, he has started 12 Ligue 1 matches this season, and given his obvious talent, he should be starting every week.
Here's a look at some of his highlights:
The Brazilian combines phenomenal athleticism with excellent vision and positioning. He's not a bruiser or a particularly big centre-back―per WhoScored.com, he's just over 6'0"―but wins battles by being smarter than his opponent, not stronger.
That doesn't mean he can't hold his own against a physical attacker―he's just better when he backs off slightly and attacks the ball, not the man. He also has the versatility to split out wide, having played as a full-back quite a bit for PSG in the past few seasons.
His WhoScored.com rating is nothing to scoff at:
Highest rated U21 players in the CL this season (3+ apps): Coman (8.24) Baba (7.62) Sterling (7.59) Marquinhos (7.44) Bellerín (7.38)2016-3-15 13:30:26
Barcelona have long been touted as an ideal destination for Marquinhos, and Bruno Andrade & Loic Tanzi of Goal claim his brother and agent have already held talks with the Catalans. The Blaugrana will be on the lookout for defensive cover this summer, as the depth behind Gerard Pique and Javier Mascherano is built around players with limited upside.
Manchester United could also use his services, and they too are expected to move for a star defender to pair with Chris Smalling this summer. Per Williams, Jose Mourinho is reportedly a big fan of Marquinhos, and he's expected to do everything possible to bring him to Old Trafford if he becomes the Red Devils' next manager.
The former Chelsea boss has been linked with the United job for months, but as of right now, current manager Louis van Gaal is still in charge. Samuel Luckhurst of the Manchester Evening News struggles to see why:
Samuel Luckhurst @samuelluckhurst
United maybe the only big club who'd allow Van Gaal to get away with it for this long with Mourinho available. #mufc still so amateurish.2016-3-10 22:17:39
If both United and Barcelona would approach Marquinhos, one has to imagine the Brazilian would find it difficult to turn down the Blaugrana. His relative lack of size and ability to pass the ball means he would be a better fit for the Spanish league, and the allure of playing for the best club in the world would be hard to pass up.
On the other hand, manager Luis Enrique seems to love working with Pique and Mascherano, two established defenders who could prove an obstacle to the starting XI, similar to Luiz and Silva. If more playing time is what Marquinhos is after, Old Trafford would be a better destination.