Monday, June 27, 2022

Kylian Mbappe: What superstar’s PSG return means for the team including Neymar and potentially Zinedine Zidane

It is done. Kylian Mbappe remains a Paris Saint-Germain player and the French giants have succeeded in keeping their star man out of Real Madrid’s clutches. Now is where the hard work starts and that is building a project around the 23-year-old which is capable of finally winning the UEFA Champions League. With their key piece now set, it is a question of PSG working out who to keep around him and who to let go, and perhaps most importantly of all, who to oversee that reconstruction both on and off the pitch.

We look at the potential ins and outs at the capital club:

In: Zinedine Zidane?

The chances of Mauricio Pochettino continuing beyond the end of this season are slim to none with an official departure expected shortly. The Argentine will be moving on and Zinedine Zidane is top of the wish list of PSG’s Qatari owners — even if the former Real man is still keen on the France national team job. However, with Mbappe now certain to continue, the Ligue 1 champions’ case for his fellow Frenchman to return to his homeland is stronger than ever. Reports are mixed so far with TF1’s Telefoot, who were originally expected to host Mbappe’s “decision,” suggesting that Zidane will not be coming while RMC Sport say that no final decision has yet been taken as there is no guarantee that Didier Deschamps steps aside from Les Bleus. Make no mistake, though, Zidane is the top choice ahead of other candidates including OGC Nice’s Christophe Galtier.

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Out: Neymar?

Such a revolution could also have unexpected big-name casualties with Neymar arguably the most at threat given the disappointing overall nature of his time in Paris. Few clubs, if any, have the necessary funds to sign the Brazilian, but PSG would listen to any serious offers if they do happen to arrive this summer. Neymar spoke of his personal and professional delight at seeing Mbappe extend on Saturday and it could be that there is no choice but to knuckle down for the 30-year-old.

Out: Angel Di Maria

Already confirmed to be leaving, FC Metz at home was Angel Di Maria’s final appearance in Parisien colors and the Argentine leaves as one of the best servants of this PSG side. Age has caught up with him in recent years, but El Fideo will still leave a sizeable hole in the starting XI and is also a personality with the squad as well as one of the most experienced figures. He managed a goal in his final appearance and will be missed in the capital.

In: Luis Campos

Leonardo will follow Pochettino out of the door and that means that a serious squad builder will be needed to construct a solid base for an Mbappe-led assault on Europe. Who better than somebody who already knows PSG’s No. 7 from his time with formative club AS Monaco? Luis Campos, a director of football with Les Monegasques and then last year’s champions Lille OSC, enjoyed success with both clubs. A former Real Madrid scout, he can offer an eye for talent unlike many as well as a substantial list of contacts.

Out: Layvin Kurzawa

PSG have been trying to move Layvin Kurzawa on for some time after an inexplicable contract extension kept him at Parc des Princes well beyond a natural parting point. Injury-prone and not even eligible for a Ligue 1 medal due to a lack of minutes, the former Monaco man is as undesirable as it gets in the capital. He is by no means alone with the likes of Ander Herrera, Leandro Paredes and Colin Dagba also headed for the exit.

In: Ousmane Dembele

One of the most high-profile free agents on the market this summer, Ousmane Dembele could leave Barcelona as a free agent and could represent the first step towards PSG developing a solid French core in the future as the likes of Di Maria move on. The 25-year-old would by no means be the big move of the summer, but it would be a double coup for Ligue 1 over La Liga after Mbappe’s decision to stay given Barca’s desire to keep him.

Out: Julian Draxler

Like Kurzawa, Julian Draxler should have moved on a while ago and may well be joined in the departure lounge by compatriot Thilo Kehrer and Abdou Diallo. Draxler has even been talking up a need for more minutes to safeguard his place within the German setup so appears set to leave if a suitable offer arrives.

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