Which players should PSG be looking to sell in January or the summer
With the January transfer window open, Paris Saint-Germain’s position is clear: They will be trying to sell more than they will be trying to add to Unai Emery’s squad, which is already bloated in places.
Lassana Diarra may come in to relieve some pressure on the aging Thiago Motta in defensive midfield but, if that deal does go ahead, it will be a free transfer and an initial short-term contract.
With around €75 million needed to be sure of keeping on the right side of UEFA’s financial fair play rules, PSG are looking at various ways to make up this deficit between now and the summer. One obvious avenue is by selling fringe players and big earners, who no longer feature in Emery’s strongest starting XI.
Another is boosting commercial revenue by renegotiating with sponsors such as Nike and Fly Emirates, which the French capital outfit have started to do since signing Neymar and Kylian Mbappe last summer.
There is a possibility that PSG cover the figure without needing to sell a single player but the end of the current season might be too long to wait for a definite answer on that when teams are expressing interest in a number of players owned by the Ligue 1 leaders.
So, who should sporting director Antero Henrique and coach Emery be looking to move on this month?
When everybody is fit and healthy, the strongest starting XI does not include the likes of goalkeeper Kevin Trapp, right-back Thomas Meunier, one of left-backs Layvin Kurzawa or Yuri Berchiche, midfielders Julian Draxler, Javier Pastore and Giovani Lo Celso, as well as versatile attackers Angel Di Maria, Lucas Moura and Hatem Ben Arfa.
Grzegorz Krychowiak, Jese Rodriguez and Goncalo Guedes, who are all out on loan at present, can be thrown into that mix, as can unused youth academy graduates Alec Georgen and Lorenzo Callegari.
Squad depth is something that must be taken into account, with the business end of the season coming but, with the World Cup in Russia also on the horizon, a lack of swift business could mean PSG are forced to consider cashing in on one or more action-starved players they would ordinarily prefer to keep until at least the end of the campaign.
Trapp, Meunier, Kurzawa, Berchiche, Draxler, Lo Celso, Pastore and Di Maria are unlikely to be granted moves away without significant fuss. Getting rid of peripheral figures like Lucas and Ben Arfa, who also earn significant amounts in salary, is preferable, while permanently selling Krychowiak and Jese would be considered a godsend at Parc des Princes.
However, not all of these players are attractive enough to convince potential buyers to stump up the cash PSG are looking for without loan spells first.
Shipping these names out temporarily is not ideal for Henrique but, faced with a choice between that and having the players rotting in the reserves like Ben Arfa or floating around like the driftwood that is Lucas these days, the Portuguese transfer guru is likely to pick the loan option.
As well-known French agent Jean-Pierre Bernes recently told France Televisions: “It is perhaps the moment to buy a PSG player” because the capital club are not in a position of strength because of their need to sell to stay within FFP limits.
Because of this, the French giants are considering parting with some players of repute who still are not quite good enough or consistent enough to command indispensable status in Emery’s regular starting XI.
Injury-prone Pastore is one of these figures and Guedes is another, while the Portugal international also ticks another box in that he is a rare salable asset, whose departure would not impact this term’s squad and who is attracting interest from potential buyers because of a superb start to his loan spell with Valencia.
Selling a player in such good form, who has also been given few chances to prove himself since joining PSG nearly 12 months ago, sparks another debate in itself but, by contrast, if PSG can find permanent homes for Lucas, Ben Arfa, Krychowiak or Jese, they will be laughing.
If none of the above happens, perhaps another European club with their eyes on a Trapp, Meunier, Kurzawa, Berchiche, Draxler, Pastore, Lo Celso or Di Maria will offer PSG a good deal.
Although it is unlikely the Ligue 1 giants sanction the sale of more than one of these names, the temptation to exchange a player for more certainty as far as FFP is concerned could prove too great.
As mentioned earlier, though, depending on how talks with the likes of Nike and Fly Emirates — or a potential new shirt sponsor — go, selling anybody this month might not actually be a necessity.
Long-term, it will be difficult to keep everybody happy and at least one or two of those big names will move on. Moving into the business end of this campaign, though, the squad will be stronger across all competitions if all of the names mentioned are kept.
Jonathan Johnson covers PSG and the French national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @Jon_LeGossip.