Contrary to popular belief, PSG is a leading training club. The emergence of Warren Zaire-Emery and his first call-up to the French team, Thursday, at only 17 years old, sheds light on this fact before the match on the 12th day of Ligue 1 which will pit Stade de Reims against the champions of France in title and current second in the ranking, Saturday (5 p.m.), at the Raymond-Kopa stadium. Last stop before the international break. The problem is that the best titis have often tended to leave the nest very early, even before exploding for some of them, in the past. By personal choice... or motivated by agents/representatives more greedy than others, but also because Paris has often used its titis as adjustment variables to balance its accounts, not to mention some errors of judgment by managers . This is why we only find two still at the club (Zaire-Emery, Kimpembe) today in our 11 of the best players trained in Paris.
A very offensive 11 (3-4-3), we are not going to hide it, made up of four members of the French selection for the next gathering (“WZE”, Coman, Maignan, Rabiot), two who would be if they were not injured (Nkunku, Kimpembe) and another who could be part of it (Diaby) if Deschamps had decided so. In fact, only two of these players have never played in the A selection (Kalimuendo, Bitshiabu). This 11 would in any case look great in real life, even if we would have to find an alternative to Mamadou Sakho if necessary... His presence is more symbolic than anything else...
No need to think too long to choose the goalkeeper of our 11 of the best titis in activity. Number 1 in the French team, Mike Maignan (AC Milan) is the perfect choice. On the bench, one of his understudies in Blue, Alphonse Areola (West Ham). Ironically, the Parisian leaders bet on the second named, letting the first slip away in Lille in 2015. Maignan has never played for PSG, unlike Areola (107). Given his current performances, Marcin Bulka (Nice) deserves to be mentioned.
And also: Arelola, Bulka, Diaw
We opted for a three-way defense. The presence of Presnel Kimpembe (PSG) will surprise no one. Out for many months, “Presko” has just returned to collective training. He participated in part of the session on Thursday for the first time since his Achilles tendon rupture on February 26 in Marseille. Trained at the capital club, which he joined in 2005, the native of Beaumont-sur-Oise played 236 matches in Rouge et Bleu. When’s the next one? He is obviously not in the group of 21 players for Reims-PSG this Saturday afternoon.
To accompany him, another player currently in the infirmary, El Chadaille Bitshiabu (Leipzig), transferred to Germany for €15 million last summer after playing 19 matches in Paris. Now aged 18, he was for a time the youngest player in the history of PSG before being overtaken by Zaire-Emery in terms of precocity. Some may still remember his blunder against Bayern last March, but “Chad” remains a very promising player. His best years are clearly behind him, but in memory of his 201 matches in Paris, we have included the name of Mamadou Sakho (free) in our selection. Don’t tell Michel Der Zakarian…
And also: Kouassi, Zagadou, Pembélé
Also read: “We’re taking 15 years with the Blues”: Warren Zaire-Emery, portrait of the new phenomenon of French football
A line of four players for our midfielder. With two very offensive pistons. In fact, two players who could have evolved within the attack... You will understand the why and the how. Two players who have, however, donned this piston costume in the past, in selection or at club, starting with Kingsley Coman (Bayern). Having left for Juve in 2014 before even signing his first professional contract in Paris, and with only four matches under his belt, the vice-world champion recalled the good memories of his training club in 2020, when he scored Bayern's winning goal in the C1 final in Lisbon. Cruel... It's our left piston. A position that Ferland Mendy (Real) could have occupied in a more natural way, let's admit it. On the right, Moussa Diaby (Aston Villa), sold to Leverkusen in 2019 for €15 million and who today shines in Birmingham and with the Villans under the orders of his former coach in Paris, Unai Emery.
In the axis, two choices which are less likely to create controversy. First of all, Adrien Rabiot (Juventus), who preferred to turn his back on his training club at the end of his contract to sign in Italy, in 2019. This had not been to the taste of the management, who had been shelved at the end of December 2018, to the great dismay of the coach at the time, Thomas Tuchel... And of course, the rising star of the moment to accompany Rabiot in the middle, Warren Zaire-Emery, the “robot” as he is nicknamed his teammates. Holder of a handful of records for precocity in Paris, the native of Montreuil “dreams” of spending his entire career on the banks of the Seine. Nasser Al-Khelaïfi would sign with both hands. According to our information, it is on track.
And also: Guendouzi, Soumaré, Weah, Dina-Ebimbe, Adli, Nzonzi, Dagba
If Coman and Diaby slipped to the sides, it was to avoid difficult choices up front. And again, we leave behind boys like Odsonne Edouard (Crystal Palace), Jonathan Ikoné (Fiorentina) or Wilson Odobert (Burnley). We start with Christopher Nkunku (Chelsea). Over the years, the native of Lagny-sur-Marne established himself as one of the best strikers in Europe with Leipzig, before joining the Blues for €60 million last summer. Already missing with the Blues for the World Cup, he was once again betrayed by his body at the start of the season and is still waiting to make his big debut in his new colors. In the middle, a sure bet in the French championship, Arnaud Kalimuendo (Rennes), passed through Lens.
And finally, a player who had too little opportunity to show his talents in Paris, but who may have the opportunity to do so in the future, Xavi Simons (Leipzig). Having left for PSV Eindhoven in 2022, the young (20 year old) Dutch international shone brightly in the Eredivisie. Despite numerous requests, he said yes to a return to Paris for… €6 million. A masterstroke from PSG, who immediately loaned him to Germany. What’s next? The Amsterdam native could very well return to Paris next summer or be loaned again, to Leipzig or elsewhere. A sale ? Not next summer, knowing that PSV would receive compensation in the event of a transfer next summer, as Le Figaro indicated a few weeks ago. In the longer term, however, nothing is forbidden. One thing is certain: whether he shines in the Red and Blue in the future or fills the club's coffers with an XXL transfer, Xavi Simons can only represent a success for PSG.
And also: Edouard, Ikoné, M. Dembélé, Odobert, Mara