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Lucas Moura Is in Danger of Failing to Fulfil Potential at Paris Saint-Germain

Jonathan Johnson@@Jon_LeGossipFeatured ColumnistSeptember 18, 2014

PARIS, FRANCE - MAY 07:  Lucas Moura of PSG  looks on from the bench during the Ligue 1 match between Paris Saint-Germain FC and Stade Rennais FC at Parc des Princes on May 7, 2014 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Two minutes into the second half of Wednesday night’s opening UEFA Champions League Group F clash between French champions Paris Saint-Germain and Dutch giants AFC Ajax, Les Parisiens’ jet-heeled Brazilian Lucas Moura hared through on goal.

Capitalising on one of a number of defensive lapses from the hosts during the clash at the Amsterdam ArenA, the 21-year-old was left with the easiest of finishes.

Or so it seemed.

Lucas put the chance wide, and at 1-0, the Selecao star’s glaring miss went on to prove costly for the French capital outfit as they were pegged back by Frank de Boer’s resilient side and forced to settle for a 1-1 draw.

FFW @FrenchFtWeekly

And Lucas misses an absolute gift to make it 2-0. Got to score it, simply have to. Inexcusable miss. Still 1-0 PSG (if you can't tell).

PSG coach Laurent Blanc refused to criticise the former Sao Paulo man, though, instead praising his performance to the Press Association (h/t FIFA.com)"

I congratulated him for his match because he was at his limit, just like his team-mates. He could have been man of the match. He missed the chance for 2-0 in the 47th minute, after we had led 1-0. But we mustn't bury him. We have to encourage him. He had chances. Next time, he has to make the most of them.

It is a curious U-turn from Blanc in his treatment of Lucas, having often been quick to point out the South American’s flaws last season when the talented attacker was in better form and often coming across as harsh.

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PARIS, FRANCE - MAY 07:  Lucas Moura of PSG in action during the Ligue 1 match between Paris Saint-Germain FC and Stade Rennais FC at Parc des Princes on May 7, 2014 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Despite playing a large part in Edinson Cavani’s opening goal on the night, PSG’s No. 7 once again flattered to deceive in the Netherlands.

It was a performance symptomatic of his difficult start to the season, and it is odd that Blanc chose to praise Moura for a wasteful performance but has criticised him in the past in games where he laid on goals but did not take the chances that fall his way.

The Ajax match was another example of Lucas not being clinical enough in front of goal, and it is clear from his first six appearances in all competitions so far this season that there has been no real improvement from last term.

Despite a promising end to the last campaign, a season that saw him tally five goals and 10 assists in just 18 starting appearances, the Brazilian has lapsed back into bad habits.

The sight of Zlatan Ibrahimovic berating Moura for cheaply losing possession in the opening fixture of the Ligue 1 season away at Stade de Reims was a sign of things to come.

Laurent Cipriani/Associated Press

Put simply, Lucas has not really matured as a player since arriving at PSG and is now running out of time and patience with which to do so. The player will always unsettle opponents with his searing pace, but his speed alone is not enough anymore.

He is not consistent enough in his finishing or his passing, and because of this he is as unreliable as a third option in attack for Blanc as unpredictable Argentinian Ezequiel Lavezzi.

Neither player will score prolifically, although Lucas is far more generous when it comes to creating goals, and neither shows enough clinical ability in front of goal to justify a starting role in this PSG team. While Moura remains in his current unfinished state, his role will always been seen as an area for improvement in the PSG side.

The samba star has to start showing more ruthlessness in front of goal if he wants to make a success of his time in Paris. Otherwise he risks seeing his development stall completely and dropping further off the international radar than he already seems at present.

FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 10: Lucas Moura #7 of Brazil carries the ball past Miguel Veloso #4 of Portugal in the second half during the international friendly match at Gillette Stadium on September 10, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jared Wickerh
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Misses like the one against Ajax take away from everything good that Lucas can do during a game. In Amsterdam, he often broke through on the right-hand side and had a number of chances, one forcing Jasper Cillessen into a save, but we see this often from him.

Moura must start to take these chances with greater regularity or risk being dropped and having to endure a battle to establish himself in Blanc’s plans, as was the case last season when Lavezzi was Le President’s preferred choice.

Lucas’ FIFA World Cup heartache this summer was expected to spur him on to build on his end-of-season form this campaign, in a bid to prove that he should have been a part of the ill-fated squad that disputed the tournament on home soil.

Instead, it is as if Moura has seen his omission and Brazil’s subsequent failure at the World Cup under the much-maligned Luiz Felipe Scolari as confirmation that the problem was his coach and not him.

Perhaps new coach Dunga’s continued snubs will finally make Lucas realise that he must learn to adapt his game and mature more.

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