Transfer window slim pickings expose tensions at PSG
Paris Saint-Germain have lost Neymar to injury at a crucial point in the season and risk being undermined by tensions behind the scenes.
PARIS - Despite being one of the biggest spenders in Europe in the January transfer window, Paris Saint-Germain have lost Neymar to injury at a crucial point in the season and risk being undermined by tensions behind the scenes.
In what was a quiet window, on the whole, the capital club spent a reported €47 million ($54 million) to sign Argentine international Leandro Paredes from Zenit Saint Petersburg and provide a much-needed extra option in midfield.
However, PSG remained light in that area with contract rebel Adrien Rabiot frozen out, and sporting director Antero Henrique spent the final days of the transfer window trying to add another signing.
Nevertheless, a move for Everton’s Idrissa Gueye failed to materialise after the English club rejected their initial offer, and an approach for Lille’s Thiago Mendes did not come to fruition either.
Meanwhile, PSG reportedly pulled the plug on a move for Argentine playmaker Luciano Acosta of DC United.
The latter would have been another creative option for coach Thomas Tuchel, who will be without Neymar until early April after the world’s most expensive player succumbed to a metatarsal injury last week.
“The winter window closed amidst total confusion for Paris Saint-Germain,” said Le Parisien on Friday.
PSG’s prospects of beating Manchester United in the Champions League last 16 - the first leg is set for 12 February - now appear to hang very much in the balance.
Reports in France have highlighted friction between Tuchel and the Portuguese Henrique, and Arsene Wenger is now being touted as a possible successor to the current sporting director.
“It is a position that could really interest him,” a source close to Wenger told AFP.
None of those issues should prevent PSG from retaining the Ligue 1 title, as they come into a weekend that will see them go to Lyon on Sunday with a lead of 13 points over Lille in second, and with two games in hand.
PSG have won on just one of their last five visits to Lyon on league duty and this could be the biggest obstacle yet to their unbeaten record in Ligue 1 under Tuchel.
Elsewhere, Saint-Etienne in fourth host fifth-placed Strasbourg, who made it through to the League Cup final in midweek by beating Bordeaux in the last four.
ALL CHANGE AT MONACO
They will play Guingamp in the final in Lille in March, after the Brittany side beat Monaco on penalties.
Despite their defeat, it was an improved performance from the principality side in the first game of Leonardo Jardim’s second spell in charge.
As well as the change in coach, it was a chaotic January at the Stade Louis II, with eight players arriving in the transfer window and another eight leaving.
Two new faces came in on deadline day, as former Marseille winger Georges-Kevin Nkoudou signed on loan from Tottenham Hotspur and French-born Portuguese international midfielder Adrien Silva joined on loan from Leicester City.
Youri Tielemans went in the opposite direction on loan having been deemed surplus to requirements by Jardim.
Monaco host Toulouse on Saturday still in the relegation zone, and still looking for a first home win this season.
“I don’t want to talk about the past. We know what has happened. My objective now is the present. With the squad we have here we are capable of succeeding,” said Jardim.
There is a reduced league card in France this weekend as Nantes play in the French Cup, in a tie that was postponed 10 days ago in the wake of Emiliano Sala’s disappearance.
Fixtures (times GMT)
Lille v Nice (19:45)
Angers v Dijon, Monaco v Toulouse, Rennes v Amiens (all 1900), Reims v Marseille (20:00)
Nimes v Montpellier (14:00), Saint-Etienne v Strasbourg (16:00), Lyon v Paris Saint-Germain (20:00)
French Cup last 32
Entente Sannois Saint-Gratien v Nantes (14:00)