What’s next for PSG and Pochettino after Champions League elimination? Here’s a position-by-position breakdown


The dust is settling on Paris Saint-Germain’s latest UEFA Champions League nightmare and the postmortem promises to be brutal after chairman and CEO Nasser Al-Khelaifi and sporting director Leonardo confronted officials at Santiago Bernabeu after Wednesday’s loss to Real Madrid.

Kylian Mbappe’s future remains undecided officially but the France international looks likely to be moving on when his contract ends this summer while head coach Mauricio Pochettino is also on the chopping block after blowing a two-goal aggregate lead in their 3-2 capitulation in Spain.

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A position-by-position look at Les Parisiens’ squad and who can be salvaged.

Goalkeepers

Gianluigi Donnarumma knows that his glaring error which gave Real hope through Karim Benzema cost PSG big time, but to question his future now would be futile. The Italy international is 12 years younger than Keylor Navas and this was his debut Champions League campaign — he is the future, and he will learn from this.

As for the Costa Rican, being overlooked upon his Madrid return was further confirmation that his future lies away from Parc des Princes. With Alphonse Areola, Sergio Rico, and Marcin Bulka out on loan, there are possibilities to form a clear and uncontestable goalkeeping hierarchy once and for all.  

Defenders

Despite arguably his worst continental showing to date, Marquinhos remains indispensable for PSG and the club must finalize his proposed contract extension and continue to build with him. Presnel Kimpembe is not as crucial as the Brazilian, but the failed Sergio Ramos experiment makes the Frenchman unsellable unless a better alternative presents itself.

The second half of the season for Achraf Hakimi might pale in comparison with the first, but his overall form has justified the Ligue 1 leaders’ move to bring him in last summer as has Nuno Mendes. His start to life in the French capital with the permanent completion of his signing an absolute priority. There is perhaps room to keep one of Abdou Diallo or Thilo Kehrer for depth, but one of the two can go.

Ramos’ time with PSG has been a catastrophe of epic proportions and must not be allowed to see a second year while Juan Bernat and Layvin Kurzawa hold little long-term value now that Mendes is an established starter while Colin Dagba simply does not have the required quality to justify a place.

Midfielders

This season was crucial for Marco Verratti and although it is ending in yet more painful failure, he remains as vital as ever to this team and has proved that he can go an extended period without injury. Aside from the Italian maestro, Idrissa Gueye and Danilo Pereira are perhaps the only two other players you consider keeping ahead of a deep restructuring of a problematic position.

Leandro Paredes, Ander Herrera and Julian Draxler have had more than enough chances to prove their worth to the team and yet they remain squad options at best. PSG are better off moving the trio on, however, they can along with Gini Wijnaldum who has been another pricey bust. Eric Junior Dina Ebimbe, like Dagba, is not good enough while Pablo Sarabia is out on loan with Sporting CP.

Attackers

Kylian Mbappe is by far and away the team’s star man, and you fear for PSG without him unless they can sign a talented goal getter in the Erling Haaland mold which is unlikely. The Frenchman’s future is in his own hands now and it is difficult to see how he can convince himself to remain at Parc des Princes after 18 wasted months under Pochettino.

Neymar is perhaps the only other attacking figure truly worth considering a future with and even that is riddled with question marks over the Brazilian superstar’s motivation and lifestyle after a year or so of relative anonymity. If he is prepared to honor his recently extended contract and is motivated to play for whoever replaces Pochettino, then keep him. If not, it is time to say goodbye.

Lionel Messi, like Ramos and Wijnaldum, has been a near total failure and the legendary Argentine is a shadow of the player he once was. In an ideal world, PSG could move him on although that might be easier said than done. Regardless of Messi, his two compatriots Mauro Icardi and Angel Di Maria have no real future in Paris. The latter has been a fantastic servant, but age has caught up with him.

Youngsters

Until the end of the season, the likes of Xavi Simons, Edouard Michut, Ismael Gharbi, Nathan Bitumazala and El Chadaille Bitshiabu need thoroughly testing to establish if they are truly ready for senior soccer. Those who are must be kept and handed meaningful squad roles to continue their development while loanees Arnaud Kalimuendo and Timothee Pembele also merit consideration.

Staff

This must be the end of the line for Mauricio Pochettino after a wretched failure of a return to the club he once captained as a player. The Argentine will leave largely without trace after 18 forgettable months at the helm and Leonardo should also be dismissed given how his second coming has panned out despite a strong start with unacceptable conduct in Madrid a repeat of his past.

The other big question at PSG is what happens with Nasser Al-Khelaifi given that he was also part of the unsavory post-match exchanges and his own ongoing legal issues. Leonardo’s 2019 return was designed to enable the Qatari supremo to concentrate on off-field matters and the South American’s near-untenable position now possibly opens the door to a new face.

Prediction


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PSG to go on a French binge and target the likes of Arsene Wenger and Zinedine Zidane to shape a stronger sporting project behind the scenes. Established stars like Paul Pogba and Riyad Mahrez to add quality and experience and younger talents such as Jules Kounde or Christopher Nkunku to rejig this stagnating squad.





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