With less than a month to go until the summer transfer window closes, Paris Saint-Germain are close to finalising the arrival of Angel Di Maria, according to ESPN FC’s Richard Jolly.
Once the Argentina international’s signing has been taken care of, it will just be a question of perfecting the French champions’ squad in the remaining few weeks of business.
So far this summer, PSG have acquired German goalkeeper Kevin Trapp from Eintracht Frankfurt to provide competition for Salvatore Sirigu, and Benjamin Stambouli has arrived from Tottenham Hotspur to replace Yohan Cabaye, who joined Crystal Palace.
On top of that, Alphonse Areola, Romain Habran and Jordan Ikoko have gone out on loan, Zoumana Camara has retired and joined the backroom staff and Mory Diaw was released.
This summer’s moves have shown PSG clearly working to boost their strength in depth, while letting go of any unnecessary driftwood. The starting XI will be strengthened by the proposed arrival of Di Maria and the loaning out of youngsters with potential to play a future role in Ligue 1 and domestic cup competitions.
That leaves coach Laurent Blanc with a number of issues to remedy between now and the end of the month. First on Le President’s list will be remedying the current Thiago Motta situation.
The Italian currently wants to leave Les Parisiens this summer, per L'Equipe (h/t Goal.com's Peter McVitie), but the capital club are reluctant to let the Azzurri star go as there are few in the game who can play the defensive midfield role as well as he does.
With Motta still keen to exit Parc des Princes before the end of the transfer window, PSG now need to consider potential replacements if it proves impossible to persuade the 32-year-old to change his mind.
The French giants have been linked with Real Madrid’s Toni Kroos and Barcelona’s Sergio Busquets, according to Le Parisien and SPORT (h/t Inside Spanish Football’s Tom Conn), while sources have also told ESPN FC’s Peter O’Rourke that Manchester United’s Michael Carrick has turned down a move to Paris.
Motta will not be easy to replace, but there is a very real chance that Blanc has to face the future without him and for that, a replacement must be identified as soon as possible.
After taking care of Motta’s situation, the next task for Blanc and his superiors will be to make a decision about the substitute goalkeeper role. With Trapp seemingly already established as Le President’s first choice between the sticks, at least to start the new season, one of Sirigu and Nicolas Douchez will have to miss out altogether.
Considering that one is a current Italy international and the other is a veteran Frenchman who has been backup ever since he arrived in the capital back in 2011, it seems likely that Douchez will be the one forced to accept a role as third-choice goalkeeper or look elsewhere for regular or semi-regular games.
Motta and Douchez are not the only two players who could be heading for the exit before the end of the month, as both Gregory van der Wiel and Lucas Digne could depart as well, and those two full-backs are another issue that Blanc has to face in this final month of the transfer window.
According to Le Parisien (h/t Marc Williams of the Daily Star), the Netherlands international revealed after PSG’s 2-0 win over Olympique Lyonnais in the Trophee des Champions in Montreal over the weekend that the club would like him to leave despite his willingness to stay.
Although neither player fulfills a vital role in Blanc’s team, the 49-year-old is faced with a tough choice in this scenario because of PSG’s potential lack of depth on either side of defence if the pair leave and Youssouf Sabaly departs as well.
Blanc was left under-manned at times last season in central defence and could experience a similar problem here if he does not keep more than one player who plays each full-back role naturally. It is not enough to rely on polyvalent players who could be needed in other areas during the course of the season.
The final issue that PSG face between now and the end of the current transfer window is deciding what to do about a number of youth academy talents.
Jean-Kevin Augustin has been the success story of Les Parisiens’ pre-season campaign in North American and could benefit more from a loan spell rather than remaining in Paris as an infrequently used squad member.
Sabaly, Jean-Christophe Bahebeck, Christopher Nkunku, Hervin Ongenda and Mike Maignan are all also at the point where they could command more first-team chances elsewhere. Blanc will need to decide whether or not he can afford any more of the club’s youngsters to be loaned out and not kept for use in the UEFA Champions League squad instead.
There are a number of important issues for the French champions to consider, but making a decision over Motta’s squad status is by far the most pressing. The Italian’s future could determine whether or not Di Maria’s proposed signing is the end of PSG’s transfer business this summer.