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PSG: Gonçalo Ramos, better than a “supersub”?

“It’s great, we won, we’re one step closer to the title.

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PSG: Gonçalo Ramos, better than a “supersub”?

“It’s great, we won, we’re one step closer to the title.” Gonçalo Ramos did not shy away from his pleasure on Sunday, after the 2-0 victory at OM, during the 27th day of Ligue 1. The 22-year-old Portuguese international striker (11 caps, 8 goals) had all the more the smile as he had completed the Parisian success and killed the suspense by missing in the 85th. His tenth goal of the season, in 31 matches in all competitions.

A goal that the former Benfica player had enhanced with his usual celebration, miming guns with his fingers and pretending to blow on the cannon, in front of the Marseille public, proudly showing the PSG crest. Chamber very appreciated by the Parisian fans, much less by the Olympians… “It’s part of the game. The supporters say things to support their players, they must accept my celebration too, I don’t think it’s disrespectful”, a- he commented after the game, still praising the “beautiful atmosphere” of the Vélodrome. “It’s hard to play here but we like this type of stadium,” he emphasized again. The kind of little attention that will inevitably increase his popularity with Parisian supporters. He will have an opportunity to notice it during the Coupe de France semi-final against Rennes, this Wednesday (9:10 p.m. - beIN SPORTS, France 3).

It remains to be seen whether Luis Enrique will line him up in the starting 11, whether he will bring him into the game or… not at all. With the Spanish coach, everything is possible. “We must always be unpredictable for the opponent,” he said on Sunday evening. Unpredictable? His PSG is for all observers, the public, but also for the players, who are only informed late before the matches of the starting lineup. One thing is certain: after a mixed start and a (very) complicated winter for medical reasons, we will come back to it, Ramos is gaining strength, knows how to make himself useful and establishes himself as a real option.

Unlike Kylian Mbappé, Ousmane Dembélé, Bradley Barcola or Randal Kolo Muani, speed is not his primary quality. On the other hand, he has his sense of purpose, his taste for effort, his head game. A good player, a real striker, a center forward who doesn't hide. “I like feeling the pressure. When you want to succeed at a club like PSG, you have to accept pressure and know how to manage it. You have to use it to motivate yourself, it’s a good thing,” he said when signing. Author of a 2022-23 campaign with 27 goals and 12 assists with Benfica, the Olhão native ordered a €80 million transfer during the off-season. A loan with purchase option to be very precise. Option exercised in November. “I want to win every trophy possible. And individually, I want to help the team as much as possible to achieve its objectives, to be coherent and to work hard,” he added.

Client of Portuguese agent Jorge Mendes, like many of his teammates in Paris, Ramos started the season timidly. He unlocked his counter during the sixth day of Ligue 1 with a double against OM (4-0). His only two goals in his first 15 appearances, between the French championship and the Champions League. A little difficult to find your place. Perhaps the weight of his transfer made him leave his training club, his native country, his cocoon. In addition, Luis Enrique preferred to bet on Randal Kolo Muani at the start of the season, for a 100% French attack.

It wasn't going to last... “Lucho” realigned Mbappé and entrusted the left side to Barcola, while maintaining his confidence in “Dembouz” on the right. Winning ticket from December and for long weeks. Too bad for Ramos, who does not have the versatility of Kolo Muani and therefore had to be content with crumbs coming off the bench, with no prospects. “I hope that the strongest trio is not yet known, whether it is them or other players,” said the former Barça coach at the end of January. In the meantime, we had lost sight of Ramos a little. Stuck on the bench at Le Havre (0-2) and against Nantes (2-1), withdrawn from Dortmund (1-1) and Lille (1-1) at the end of the year, again on the bench for the Trophy champions against Toulouse (2-0) and Lens (0-2). We first talked about a flu, a simple virus. It was a little more than that in the end.

Also read “Kylian has always had exemplary behavior”: Luis Enrique flies to Mbappé’s aid

The story told by Pedro Miguel Pauleta's successor in Paris is chilling: “I had a difficult month of December. It started with a virus that turned into a colon infection. I spent 20 days bleeding and vomiting, unable to eat and with a very high fever. I ended up going to the hospital four or five times and being put on a drip. I lost eight kilos and, during the period of adaptation to France, adding this mishap did not help,” he recently explained in an interview with the Portuguese daily Record. He continued: “Then I had to gain weight in the middle of the season, doing the preparation in January, which is not easy. I was a bit lucky because it's a quieter month in terms of competitions, but it was difficult to get back into the rhythm after losing so much weight. I started on December 10th and didn't train until the 21st but I wasn't 100%. I had a relapse at Christmas, I went to the hospital and it was only when I returned, on the 30th, that I started training again 100% and without pain.

It's from the past. Ramos has regained form, rhythm, confidence. And the statistics follow. Seven goals in his last ten matches. He also found the net for Portugal in the 5-2 victory over Sweden in the last meeting. Luis Enrique's management is good. “For the players to feel important, we have to give them playing time. And not poor quality playing time, real minutes,” assures the Asturian coach, repeating over and over again that he wants to be able to count on a complete group, not just 12 or 13 players.

A sometimes confusing turnover but which has the merit of involving as many players as possible. “It’s easier to manage if everyone is involved, so that absences are felt as little as possible. Example with Lucas Berlado, who will not play for two matches (suspended after his expulsion in Marseille, Editor's note). Those who play in his place will have confidence, they will know that the coach has confidence because he has already had minutes. We are competing in all competitions and all the players are convinced that they can play,” he explains. This is particularly the case of Gonçalo Ramos, who scored five of his ten goals coming off the bench. It was precisely as a substitute that he played against OM, replacing Mbappé in the 64th minute. “The result speaks for itself,” judges Ramos. No calculation: starter or substitute, the Portuguese always gives his all. He probably dreams of settling in the 11 rather than consolidating this emerging status of “supersub”. It's up to him to convince Luis Enrique. It won't be easy, the Spaniard having his own idea of ​​the center forward position. Against OM for example, he played Dembélé in a central position, in a false 10, between Mbappé and Kolo Muani.

Gonçalo Ramos starts from afar. In any case, more than Randal Kolo Muani. If he always plays at least a few minutes in national games when he is fit, the Portuguese Seleção striker has only started one match in the “Champions” group stage. He did not play at all during the double confrontation against Real Sociedad (2-0, 2-1), in the round of 16.

Let's see what Luis Enrique's orientations will be against Stade Rennes, this Wednesday, at the Parc des Princes, exactly one week before the reception of Barcelona, ​​in the quarter-final first leg of the Champions League (April 10 and 16). In any case, the former coach of the Spain team should have no trouble motivating his troops for this meeting against the Bretons. “One more step and we’re in the final! This is a very powerful motivator. This is more than enough for us to see a very good version of our team tomorrow (this Wednesday).” It would be better: contrary to what their 2-0 defeat in Strasbourg suggests, Julien Stéphan's Rennes are in good shape. It will not be easy for PSG, as evidenced by the last confrontation between the two teams. A Stade Rennes B came to take points in Paris at the end of February (1-1). This time, there will be a winner, who will be awarded a place in the final, on May 25, at the Pierre-Mauroy stadium.

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