Why Inter Milan Target Jeremy Menez Is Vital to PSG and Ibrahimovic

Jonathan Johnson@@Jon_LeGossipFeatured ColumnistMay 9, 2013

PARIS, FRANCE - FEBRUARY 08:  Jeremy Menez of Paris Saint-Germain celebrates his goal during the Ligue 1 match between Paris Saint-Germain FC and SC Bastia at Parc des Princes on February 8, 2013 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

After a tumultuous season in the French capital, Paris Saint-Germain’s Jeremy Menez is being linked with a summer exit, having fallen down the pecking order following the arrival of Lucas Moura.

As he has played for Carlo Ancelotti’s side this campaign, the player’s relationship with the club has deteriorated because of his poor attitude (via ESPNFC). A mercurial talent, the player is being linked with Inter Milan (Soccer News), Monaco (Transfer Markt) and Liverpool (Sky Sports).

PSG, though, can ill-afford to let the temperamental French international go at this point. Not only is he a highly talented player when on song, he is also a rare domestic talent in Les Parisiens’ side.

Since February, Menez has been brooding about his situation after losing his place in Ancelotti’s first-team plans to Brazilian sensation Lucas Moura. Although he has still been involved regularly and has also suffered a number of injuries in that time, it is obvious that Menez has become second fiddle to PSG’s first-choice attacking unit.

A harsh blow considering his superb form last season, when he bagged seven league goals and 12 assists in 33 appearances in a highly productive first season back in France after a spell in Italy with Roma.

But Ancelotti’s omission of Menez is not because he does not rate the player, but more because he is trying to instill a sense of team spirit inside the 26-year-old, who is highly individualistic and selfish.

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Besides, he has still scored four league goals and provided seven assists so far this season.

On his day, he is a direct threat both in terms of scoring goals and making them, and enjoys a particularly fruitful relationship with Swedish talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

With Ibra’s future far from clear in the French capital (via ESPNFC), Menez’s strong understanding with the towering striker is one reason why the Frenchman should stay, if Ibrahimovic and Ancelotti (via ESPNFC) also decide to remain at the Parc des Princes.

Menez is an infuriating player to watch at times, but there is no denying that PSG miss him when he does not play. His running and trickery cause plenty of problems for PSG’s opponents, and he is one of the team’s rare talents that can take the ball forward directly and create chances at will.

It is his link-up with Ibrahimovic, though, that holds the highest value. The capital club’s fortunes have largely revolved around the goal-scoring exploits of Ibra this season, and since Menez has fallen out of favour, the Swede’s goals have dried up somewhat.

The Frenchman has provided five league assists for Ibrahimovic this season, the highest within the PSG squad. Factor European football into the equation and that makes six assists for the Swede in total this year.

The 31-year-old has also laid on two of Menez’s seven goals this season across all competitions, one in Ligue 1 and one in the Champions League.

It would appear that the former Monaco and Sochaux star is key to getting the best out of Ibrahimovic and if he stays, Menez will be important in maintaining his healthy productivity.

The problem is that, with Moura occupying the berth on the right-hand side for PSG, Menez gets alternated with Ezequiel Lavezzi as a second striker to play alongside Ibrahimovic.

The Frenchman may prefer to play in the middle, but he arguably most effective when played out wide. A switch between him and Moura may be more beneficial to the capital club should they not move for Napoli’s Edinson Cavani as has been reported (via ESPNFC).

A fans' favourite despite his questionable attitude, and one of PSG’s most creative influences, Menez has delivered on a more consistent basis than the likes of Javier Pastore this season and deserves to play more often than he does at present.

His frustration at being overlooked is understandable given the greater impact that he could have on matches if given the chance more often.

Like homegrown defender Mamadou Sakho, Menez is a domestic talent that the capital club are on the verge of losing this summer. Though he can’t expect to start every game now, like Sakho, he has a right to expect more chances in big games and not just to be used in Ligue 1.

That seems to be the way that the club’s domestic contingent are largely viewed currently, and the likes of Kevin Gameiro, Clement Chantome, Sakho and Menez are better than that.

Sakho arguably is ready to usurp Alex at centre-back if he wasn’t already at the start of the season, and Menez is capable of offering Ancelotti’s side a directness that the likes of Pastore and Lavezzi cannot always provide. 

But if Ibrahimovic and PSG are to continue together, then PSG need to make securing Menez’s future a priority this summer.