Paris Saint Germain

[FM19] The Paris Project - Episode 2

 
 

Written by @JordTheDesigner

The Parisians

“Getting rid of Cavani, Silva, Alves and Buffon is a bold move for any manager but by a new manager at PSG, with the level of scrutiny and expectation from the board, Eric Moreau may already be setting himself up for failure. ” - Jose Mourinho on Bein Sports (August 2019)

Implementing the project

The Ile de France has always produced some of the best youngsters that France has to offer, teams from all across the country send their scouts around the outskirts of Paris, looking to sign the next big star of French Football. Monaco, Lyon and Marseille frequently find a gem and convince the Parisian players to move further afield. PSG’s new manager Eric Moreau wanted to change all that, he wanted to make sure that young Parisians dreamed of playing for PSG and knowing if they were good enough they’d be offered a pathway to the first team. Before the appointment of the 37 year old, who had played his football in the lower leagues of France, there was only 3 players born in the region who were part of the first team squad.

 
 

By the start of the season that had changed to 15, through signings and promoting players to the first team. Former youth products Kingsley Coman and Moussa Dembele were brought back to the club after the sales of Angel Di Maria and Edison Cavani, despite the Uruguayans stand out season, Eric Moreau looks to place his trust in his more youthful forwards. Julian Draxler, Juan Bernat and Jese quickly followed the two South American’s through the exit door, Moreau had little need or want for bit part players on high wages. Moreau’s project began to attract the attention of the worldwide media when Buffon, Dani Alves and Thiago Silva were all told that they could leave. Buffon returned home to Parma whilst Dani Alves and Thiago Silva found themselves in the Premier League for Liverpool and Arsenal respectively. The last to leave the now heavily depleted squad would be Kevin Trapp, Mazxim Choupo-Moting and Layvin Kurzawa, leaving the team with 14 first team players and youngsters who could play a part throughout the season.

 
 

Tagy Ndombele was the first of the Paris Project signings through the door, a strong centre midfielder with an eye for a through ball, Moreau believes that Tagy can be his Yaya Toure in the midfield. With both left backs sold and no real standouts in the academy, Mathieu Gonclaves was brought in from Toulouse and instantly loaned out to Orleans in the second division, Mathieu would be one for the future. After spending most of the season injured, Bernard Mendy has transfer listed by Man City and was quickly on a plane to Paris, the attacking left back would be appointed as vice captain in the coming weeks. Alphonse Areola was the only recognisable goalkeeper at the club after Frankfurt offered to give Remy Deschamps first team football, Bingourou Kamara was swiftly brought in and will compete for the number 1 spot.

With no number 10 at the club, Moroccan Amine Harit was brought in from Schalke after his £21.5m release clause was activated. After a stand out pre-season Harit could prove crucial to PSG’s European challenge. The final signings for the first team were the experienced striker Wissam Ben Yedder and exciting centre back prospect Evan N’Dicka who was scouted by Man United and Arsenal before PSG struck early and brought the heavily sought after French Under 21 star to the club.

 
 

The Paris Youth

Maolida, Quinas, Konango Mbon, Touati and Massengo were all brought into the reserve team to develop and push for the first team football in future years. Maolida, Touati and Quinas all left on loan valuable experience. With the reserve team and youth team each containing 25 players, the development system were a lot more streamlined and  and players who wouldn’t be good enough in the future for the first team were let go.

After numerous meetings with the board, no progress was made with increasing the youth coaching or gaining an affiliate, this combined with the loan restrictions that only 7 players can be leave on a domestic loan meant that the development pathway was still as vague as ever, hopefully by January this will have some progression.

One positive for the youth development was the PSG will feature in the UEFA Youth League and the Premier League International U23 cup, allowing some of the players to gain experience against the best youngsters in Europe.

 
 

The Asian Experience

Pre season consisted of nine friendlies and the Trophee des Champions which was played in China. The first two friendlies were played around France with Niort and Paris FC playing host to the richest team in France, both games saw seven goals with PSG winning 5-2 and 6-1 respectively. The first of two tours was next on the agenda as PSG traveled to the Benelux region playing affiliate Antwerp, Sevilla, Feyenoord and Ajax. Three wins, 13 goals scored and only four goals conceded was a big confidence boost for the youthful PSG team.

The second tour saw PSG with all the new signings bedded into the team by this point travel to Japan ahead of the season curtain raiser. Kashima Antlers were the first team that newly appointed captain Presnel Kimpembe would lead his team out for. A professional performance saw the French side take home a 2-0 victory thanks to goals from Harit and Coman. With two games in four days and only a three day break until the Trophee des Champions, Moreau played two differing starting XI’s in the games against JEF United and Sanfreece Hiroshima. The rotation proved no issues as PSG scored nine across the two games and came away with convincing wins, a good sign ahead of a tough Ligue 1 opening few games with Lyon and Marseille on the horizon.

1500 fans made the trip to Shenzhen for the game against Coupe de France winners Strasbourg, the team responsible for the sacking of Thomas Tuchel. Eight of the fourteen players to feature were born in the Paris region, whilst another two, Tim Weah and Kimpembe are both home grown at the club. Within the first four minutes, the travelling fans had reason to celebrate as Kingsley Coman tapped home a Bernard Mendy cross after Strasbourg failed to clear Neymar’s dangerous cross the goal free kick. Two minutes later and Neymar delivered another valuable free kick with compatriot Marquinhos towering above his marker and heading past Sels to give the Parisians an early 2-0 lead. Ten minutes later, with Strasbourg struggling to get out their own half, Mendy and Coman again combined to put PSG 3-0 up and out of sight. From the 30th minute on the game descended into a keep ball session with Ndombele and Neymar finding the net in added time to give PSG an eight Trophee de Champions, overtaking Lyon’s record.

 
 


[FM19] The Paris Project - Part Two

Written by JordTheDesigner

Nothing In Reserve

In part 1 of the series, it was blatantly clear that PSG haven’t utilised their youth system to its full potential over the last forty years or attracted the copious amounts of players who have grown up in and around Paris. In the second article, I look at how PSG’s young players, anyone under and including the age of 21, did last year and see if any of them can make the grade for the first team next season. The current number of players to analyse currently stands at 59 who are in the threshold.

It’s important to note at this point that I simulated the first season to give myself enough in-game data to do these comparisons. I will be taking over at PSG under an alias of a former player on the 2nd June, two days after the French Cup final which sparked the sacking of Thomas Tuchel after the defeat to Strasbourg.

The Reserves

In the new French league system most Ligue 1 clubs have a reserve team playing in the National 2 League, the 4th tier of French football which is unlike Spain and Portugal who can have B teams play one league under the senior side. French rules also dictate that reserve teams cannot be promoted from the National 2.

In the 2018-19 season, PSG reserves won the league by a comfortable 10 points from FC Nantes Reserves and Vannes OC. The reserves dominated the league from start to finish, which was reflected in the team’s statistics, with the club leading the way for most clean sheets, most goals scored and highest average possession. The reserves scored four more goals than Nantes and conceded 6 less than Stade Briochin.

A statistic that stood out was that Kimpembe covered the most ground for the reserves and made a staggering 13 appearances for them, being man of the match three times, two less appearances than he made for the first team. The inclusion of Kimpembe in the reserves springs real concern about the selection of the younger players in the first team and how valuable Tuchel saw them as. Alphonse Areola, Colin Dagba, Choupo-Moting and Julian Draxler also made 10 or more appearances for the reserves. Only one player under the age of 20 made more than 10 appearances for the Reserves, prompting further questions about the ability of the youth.

The player in question was Virgiliu Postolachi, who made 20 appearances and found the net six times. The 19-year-old also featured three times off the bench for the main team, scoring once and averaging 7.03.

Although there was the odd highlight from the reserves, it is deeply alarming that so many first team players made so many appearances in the fourth tier of French football.

Players on Loan

The club had seven players out on loan for the duration of the season, with five of these players over the age of 21. Incidentally every player out on loan was worth more than any player left at the club outside of the first team. The following players were on loan

The impact of the loan spells is difficult to gauge for Trapp, Jese, Robail and Rimane as they are all at an age where they need to be playing football and as a result will be move on in the summer.

Descamps did well at Clermont, however there is still a large doubt how he will perform in Ligue 1. Clermont finished 4th in the league but failed to win the playoffs, however Descamps’ contributed to helping the side to the second least goals conceded in Ligue 2, only Ben Leroy made more clean sheets. The plan for the 22-year-old will be to loan him out to either an affiliate in a top league or for him to get first team experience in Ligue 1. With age on his side due to his position, a decision on his value to the first team won’t be decided until he’s in his mid-twenties.

Samuel Essende’s loan spell was nothing less than a disaster, making no appearances in a top division suggests that he need to drop down to a second-tier next season and be reassessed in the summer. Timothy Weah impressed in his small chances of football at Celtic, with the likes of Choupo-Moting likely to move on, the American will be given a chance to show his worth in Ligue 1 next season, predominately from the bench.

An Extinct Pathway

Currently the route to the first team is very unclear and a major jump from playing for the U19’s or reserves in National 2 to playing for the best side in France. The only realistic affiliate that can give players any realistic experience in a competitive league is Antwerp.

Therefore, the current pathway looks like this:


Consequently, we don’t have a clear and reliable pathway to aid both player development and help the first team out when there are injuries. The plan is to gain an affiliate in Ligue 2 and then another affiliate in another top league which allows a clear development pathway and a means of assessing players in a realistic way.

 
 

The new look pathway, would in theory, look like the following for a 16-year-old:

- Stage 1: Plays for Reserves

- Stage  2: Ligue 2 club

- Stage 3: Top division club

- Stage 4: Club who has European football

- Stage 5: PSG First team

It is worth noting that a player can be fast tracked or held back at different stages depending on their current ability in comparison to the first team needs.

From the two review posts, it is clear that first I need to sort out the player development pathway and dramatically review the average age of the squad. The next post will look at the players who have left the club, the look of the squads from senior to under 19 and the progression of acquiring more affiliates.

NB: Whilst not an official transfer policy, most of the signings will be of players from the Ile-de-France region.