Having forecasted a fairly difficult first season at PSG thanks to a mini-overhaul in the Summer, I highlighted in my last update how I was pleasantly surprised with the team in the first few games of the season. They were keeping shape very well in defense and attack. This only continued throughout the year as we romped to the league title, to my surprise. We broke the record for most points in a Ligue 1 season with two games to go, and eventually finished on 90 points, four clear of the old points record, and eight clear of 2nd place, Marseille.
With a fairly unimpressive goals scored (74, or 1.95pg) and goals conceded (30, or 0.79pg), I was pretty amazed that we managed to do so well in the league. But in the other competitions; the two French cups and the Europa League, we struggled. This was mainly due to a lack of form from my AML and AMR, who often left Suarez isolated up front. Suarez was in great form the majority of the season, with 30 goals in all competitions.
Another alteration I’d like to make for the coming season is increasing the squad size fairly dramatically. I didn’t realise just how many games a top team in France can play, and even though we were sent packing from the Europa League by Juventus in the second knockout round, we still played 59 games in all competitions. With Champions League football on the way, and a chance at going further this year, it’s pretty important I make four or so valuable additions to the squad. To give you an idea, we had 18 guys make 30+ appearances this year. Then we had Lavezzi on 26, Wallace (a January signing) on 14, and that’s the squad. Stretched far too thin, particularly with our high pressing style.
One thing I have noted that I wasn’t expecting to is that the likes of Lucas Moura can be highly effective in my system. Despite being a bit of a liability defensively, he set the record for Player of the Match performances with 9. And the team looked far superior with his pace in the side. He had by far the best average rating of anyone in the team, with 7.37, and despite his lacking in work rate, made a similar number of tackles to his rivals: Lucas Moura (0.73), Edinson Cavani (0.77), Ezequiel Lavezzi (0.91), Luis Suarez (0.43).
Lucas was named star of the season, despite Suarez being top three for goals and assists. Adam Maher also got the award for Most Promising Player which is… promising.
Early Summer 2017
With all of this in mind, I set about my Summer transfer dealings. Yohan Cabaye, Domenico Criscito, Salvatore Sirigu and Ezequiel Lavezzi were to be the men to leave the club. Cabaye left after his contract expired, and Sirigu was flogged to £16m. Lavezzi is currently languishing in the reserves at time of writing but hopefully my Director of Football will find a club for him soon. Criscito returned to homeland Italy after Napoli offered £9.25m for the 30 year old.
One sale I absolutely didn’t plan that eventually came to fruition was Lorenzo Insigne to Arsenal. I had planned for him to be my backup AML, but when Arsenal came in at £31m I decided to negotiate them. They accepted my very first negotiation – a deal of an initial £41m, potentially rising to £45m if he plays in 50+ league games and scores 10+ league goals. I just couldn’t reject an offer like that for a backup, even if we are absolutely loaded.
As for incomings, there was quite a bit more action. Firstly, there were a few guys on loan last season who’d make a first team impact this year. Marc-Andre ter Stegen had a great year on loan at Metalist, keeping more than a clean sheet every two games. I’d be delighted if he could replicate that form this season. Then there’s Osvaldo Acosta Cabrera who looks like the ultimate luxury player for my system. At 9 teamwork, 11 work rate, 7 positioning, and 11 tackling, he’s bound to struggle. But given how well we fit Lucas Moura into the system, I reckon we’ll be okay.
Then there were five guys who we’d agreed to sign during the season that arrived once the market opened on 13 June:
• Cristian Bassaguisteguy (ML/AML) – a fantastic name for a fantastic player. At the age of 21, I can only assume this guy was part of the very first batch of regens – I was surprised to find one so well developed already. Will probably play backup for one of my other signings, but he was pretty key to the sale of Insigne. Not bad for £3.9m.
• Juninho Carioca (MC/AMC) – I found Juninho (real name: Yago da Silva Junior… okay) in the Brazilian leagues and told my DoF to work his magic. Given our almost unlimited pot of money, I wasn’t bothered about negotiating myself. £11.5m later and he’s a PSG player – hopefully he’ll see some good game time at our affiliate, AZ Alkmaar.
• Islam Yegorov (LB) – a signing I really shouldn’t have made, due to the next guy on this list, and the presence of Lucas Digne. But he’s completely different to the other two guys in that he’s far more defensively solid. It’s always great to have such variety in the squad so it’s not the end of hte world that we signed him, and I might look into converting him to a CB or RB. Let me know what you’d do.
• Dursan Bektas (LB/LWB/LM) – the reason Digne and Yegorov are unlikely to have a particularly pleasant season. In his first full season as a pro, with Galatasaray, he finished with an average rating of 8.10 (MOTMs: 11). After a move to Roma, he then proved himself in a big league, with an average rating of 7.65 (MOTMs: 10). I’m not expecting him to perform that well for us, but as a CWB-A, he should see plenty of success.
• Gustavo Fuba (CB) – trainee. Unlikely to see success during my time as manager.
After the addition of those five regens, and the guys returning from loan deals, we didn’t need too many more additions. However, I still managed to spend £35.5m on two guys, with Sergio Busquets (£24m) and Willian (£10.5m) joining the team. Both are absolutely ideal for the way we play and so I just couldn’t turn them down. The only issue, and presumably the reason I got good value on both, is that they’re both 28 years old. Whilst that’s the peak of their career, it won’t be like that for long. Hopefully I’ll be long gone by then – this Summer I found it difficult not to accept the advances of Man City, Dortmund or Real Madrid.