[FM19] The Paris Project - Part One

Written by JordTheDesigner - Foreword by FridayNightFM


I spoke with Jord before releasing this blog post to understand the format of this save, he wanted to start his management career at the beginning of the 2019/20 season letting Football Manager write it’s own unique story giving him the opportunity to look back before moving forward. He doesn’t think PSG want to trust the youth and his story will document how the younger generation force their way in to becoming a jewel in an expensive crown.

2018/19 Season Review

For nearly a decade PSG have dominated the domestic game and the 2018/19 season wasn’t any different. With just four defeats all season the richest club in France cruised to their 7th league title by a 7-point margin from Lyon. A near perfect home season was ruined by Amiens visit in October who took all 3 points, L’ASC who were predicted to finish in a relegation dogfight were the shock of the season as they claimed a Europa League spot ahead of Montpellier and Nice. The league dominance extended across the stats chalkboard with PSG leading the way for most goals, most clean sheets, most passes completed, and least goals conceded.

On a personal level, Kylian Mbappe took home the Golden Boot after 19 goals in 34 games, one more than teammate Neymar who grabbed 18 goals in 31 games with Edinson Cavani also weighing in with 16 goals, the Uruguayan also recorded the most wins by any player in Ligue 1. Despite the 32-year old’s age, Cavani also covered the most ground in the whole season, with an average of 10.5KM per game.  Although throughout the domestic campaign, Neymar was the most prolific striker in terms of goals to games played.

Just as in real life PSG lost in the Coupe de France final, this time against Strasbourg despite Cavani and Neymar both scoring in the first half. The defeat was largely down to a key error from Buffon who ended the match with a 5.8 rating. There was a contrasting story in the Coupe de La Ligue as a Cavani hat-trick led the Parisians to a 3-0 victory over rivals AS Monaco. Overall a promising story on the domestic front but as all football fans know, just like Man City, the owners are craving their first Champions League win.

The group stages of the Champions League were as straightforward as the draw suggested. Schalke, Brugge and Schalke caused no shocks as 14 goals were put past the three opponents resulting in five wins and one defeat, a 1-0 loss against second place Schalke. The Germans also qualified on 15 points but had a significantly worse goal difference. Once again, the evergreen Edison Cavani was the stand out player of the Group Stage contributing five goals.

A trip to Valencia was in-store for the first knockout round, A below par performance was rectified by super sub Julian Draxler’s only goal of the season. The Valencians came to Parc des Princes and battered PSG for the first half, however goals from that man again Cavani and defensive stalwart Thiago Silva saw PSG advance to a Quarter-Final tie with Juventus. The lightning quick front three all scored a goal apiece to give PSG a comfortable 3-0 lead at the break but Dybala and Mandzukic made sure it was advantage Juventus in the second leg as they grabbed two valuable away goals. Those two away goals would prove vital as goals from Ronaldo and Douglas Costa either side of half time would see the Parisians crash out of Europe early once again.

An Age Imbalance

Despite all the millions PSG have spent in the recent years, there’s one clear problem, a lack of youth coming through and an ever-ageing squad. Five of the starting eleven from the Coupe de France were over 30. Di Maria, Cavani, Thiago Silva, Dani Alves & Buffon contributed 233 starts across all competitions with all five being in the top ten players for most appearances across the season. Only 6 other teams in Ligue 1 had a higher average squad age in the 2018/19 season and the 2nd highest in the top 6.

Furthermore, only Mbappe and Neymar had a better average rating than Cavani and Alves across the season. In comparison direct replacements Choupo-Moting and Thomas Meunier only registered 26 starts and 31 sub appearances between themselves with an average rating of 6.95 and 7.12 respectively. To add insult to injury only four players under the age of 25 at the end of the season had more than 10 appearances, with these being Kehrer, Mbappe, Padres, Kimpembe and Rabiot. Rabiot is already leaving on a free transfer in the summer whilst Kehrer and Padres both made just 15 appearances.

Since the PSG academy was set up in the mid 1970’s only nine players have graduated from the system and gone on to make more than 200 appearances for the club. The most recent players to do this was the aforementioned Adrien Rabiot and former club captain Mamadou Sakho. However, this isn’t to say that PSG lack the ability of bringing through talent as Academy Player of the Year winners include Kingsley Coman, Odsonne Edouard, Alphonse Areola and Jean-Kevin Augustin. All four players are featured in either the Champions League or Europa League this season.

In the 2015/16 season PSG reached the UEFA Youth League final for the first time in their history, losing 2-1 against a Chelsea academy side including Tammy Abraham. Three of the starting eleven for PSG that day are still at the club but have failed to make it close to the first team, Christopher Nkunku has arguably made the best progression and has been linked with Arsenal in recent months. The aforementioned Augustin and Edouard have both found regular football abroad, whilst four of the remaining six starters are playing in a European top division with only Meite and Demoncy plying their trade in the lower leagues of European football.

In hindsight it is easy to say that PSG have lost out on a lot of their younger talent development thanks to the large spending of the Qatari investors, with Kingsley Coman the biggest loss after his free transfer to Juventus, the likes of Edouard and Augustin have both shown glimpses of why they could have been Cavani’s successor. With the rumours of less investment and the ever ageing squad, PSG may now have to start trusting their youth set up and younger players. Diaby, Nsoki and Dagaba have all been given chances in recent games in the real world.

Thanks for reading and join me next time as I evaluate the PSG squad and look to see what youth PSG have at their disposal and what promising talents can step up and help replace the ageing legs of Alves, Cavani, Thiago Silva and Buffon.