“What I want is to start playing with Messi again! “ In December 2020, after setting the Old Trafford stadium on fire in Paris-Saint-Germain’s 3-1 victory against Manchester United in the Champions League, a nostalgic Neymar for Barcelona (his previous club) had played with the heart of Parisian supporters. Eight months later, contract extended until 2025 in the capital, the Brazilian number 10 will see his wish granted.
If the arrival of “Leo” Messi should consolidate the Parisian club in its quest for the Champions League, it asks certain questions. With a game plan still staggering since his arrival in January, how will coach Mauricio Pochettino manage this new cohabitation with stars like Neymar, Kylian Mbappé, and the very recent recruit, the Spaniard Sergio Ramos came of Real Madrid?
Recognized coaches, such as Unai Emery or Thomas Tuchel, have broken their teeth there. “We can believe that bringing these stars together is a complicated task, but the aura of Messi is above that”, argues Fabien Mercadal, former coach of Cercle Bruges, Caen and Paris FC, who believes that “Messi will put everyone in agreement”. “His unifying side, although he revealed it late, is quite obvious. “
Off the pitch, the Argentine, who helped Neymar integrate with Barca when he arrived in 2011 – something the Brazilian has always owed him – should find his place in the South American part of the dressing room. , formed by executives of the club: in addition to Neymar, the Brazilian Marquinhos, the Argentines Angel Di Maria and Leandro Paredes.
“Neymar and Mbappé will have to make concessions”
On the side of Kylian Mbappé, presented as the figurehead of the Qatari project – and who asked “More responsibilities” –, the reactions could be different. Will the arrival of one of the best players in history allow him to progress? Or confirm his desires elsewhere? The start of the season will offer some answers.
It is on the field that the balance between the stars will be tested. The arrival of Messi could call into question the roles of Mbappé and Neymar. “The key is that we will have to compensate for Messi’s reduced activity in the dry cleaners”, this phase of the game where one seeks to slow down the progress of the opponent by pressing the ball carrier, poses Fabien Mercadal. “Di Maria is able to do that, but are Neymar and Mbappé? This is the opportunity to prove that they can change their game. “
So far Mauricio Pochettino, “That we expected on the pressing strategy precisely – he has built his reputation on this – has not yet really succeeded in imposing the intensity that he dreamed of seeing, relativizes Maxime Brigand, journalist specializing in tactics to So Foot. Neymar and Mbappé will have to make concessions “.
The Brazilian could once again take on a role he had when he played for Barça in 2015: with striker Luis Suarez, he had put himself at the service of Messi, who had found a place of eccentric playmaker. Kylian Mbappé could establish himself as a leading striker and abandon his preferential left side, in order to have Messi and Neymar in support.
Tactically, PSG could adopt a system with three defenders, four midfielders and three attackers, including a leading edge (3-4-2-1). But the question is whether Sergio Ramos has the ability to move to the right in a three-way defense, where he has often shown his limits.
“We can also imagine a 100% PSG in its DNA, which will bet on madness in a 4-4-2 with Messi-Mbappé in front, Neymar on the left and Wijnaldum or Di Maria on the right, supported by a duo Verratti-Gueye or Verratti-Paredes. Parades having already shown his perfect technical understanding with Neymar and his ability to advance the game by passing ”, Maxime Brigand advances.
One thing is certain: ” On paper “, PSG will have a “Huge offensive armada”, as Fabien Mercadal summarizes. “But in football, we quickly throw away the paper”, he also warns.