Spare a thought for Layvin Kurzawa. PSG’s bench is a very lonely place to be at the moment.
Injuries- most notably to Neymar and Edinson Cavani- have forced the likes of Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, signed from Stoke to be a perennial benchwarmer, into unlikely action.
It’s led to a bizarre situation in which the 11th richest club in world football haven’t been able to field a full substitutes’ bench in their last two Ligue 1 fixtures.
Thomas Tuchel could only call upon six substitutes against Bordeaux and Saint-Etienne, although PSG still won both encounters.
Thriftiness is not necessarily a quality PSG would have checked for in Tuchel’s job interview. But the German is having to call upon all his powers of improvisation during his first season in Paris.
That seems a ridiculous statement to make for a club that signed Kylian Mbappe, Gianluigi Buffon, Juan Bernat, Thilo Kehrer and Choupo-Moting in the summer.
But, for all the lavish arrivals, PSG’s failure to sign several key targets- in particular an aggressive ball-winning defensive midfielder- has come back to haunt Tuchel of late.
Dani Alves has started more games in the heart of midfield than at right-back this season. His fellow ‘full-back’ Bernat was also deployed in the centre of midfield against Saint-Etienne, where he was joined by Jack of all trades Julian Draxler.
The third member of that trio was January signing Leandro Paredes, who will be sweating on his place in PSG’s midfield when Marco Verratti is fully fit. The former Zenit man is a beautiful passer of the ball but he won’t ease Tuchel’s desire for a snarling midfield presence.
Marquinhos, who prior to this season was thought of purely as a centre-back, has been Tuchel’s preferred midfield pit bull. Adrien Rabiot’s self-imposed absence has left the 45-year-old with little choice.
Like Draxler, Angel Di Maria is rapidly ticking off every position on the pitch under Tuchel this season.
To the German’s credit, cramming square pegs into round holes is getting the job done in fine fashion.
PSG are already 12 points clear at the top of Ligue 1, have one foot in the next round of the Champions League and face Dijon in the quarter-finals of the Coupe de France.
The academy has also proved fruitful as Tuchel looks to find creative ways to paper over the cracks. Colin Dagba, Antoine Bernede, Stanley N’Soki and Moussa Diaby have all stepped up from PSG B to earn Ligue 1 minutes this season.
Of course, nobody is going to feel sorry for a club backed by the riches an entire country.
But to write Tuchel’s job off as simply juggling a world-class roster of stars as they bully their way to league and European glory would be doing the German a disservice.
It’s in part because of PSG’s gargantuan wealth, and the sanctions that falling foul of Financial Fair Play bring, that Tuchel’s hands have been tied.
So if you see him rummaging around you local charity shop or wandering into your nearest recycling centre, don’t be alarmed. He’s probably looking for players.
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