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.
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.