Despite the obvious financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic on clubs, Paris Saint-Germain were still able to make Mauro Icardi’s loan move permanent in May for around £45m.
Indeed, Les Parisiens’ financial muscle and ability in the transfer market has been well-documented. But what perhaps goes often unnoticed as a result of their casual £200m investments is their youth academy.
In a team that contains Neymar, Kylian Mbappe, Icardi, Angel Di Maria…the list goes on, why would people take much notice of a teenage talent struggling to break through into the first team?
But this is precisely the problem for PSG.
The French champions’ academy is filled with supreme talents, but their inability to give them the opportunities they rightly deserve has resulted in the youngsters being driven away from the club. Rather than constantly looking to the transfer market in a desperate attempt to strengthen the squad, they have a number of youngsters who have worked tirelessly in an attempt to get their chance in the first team. But PSG simply aren’t learning their lessons.
Tanguy Kouassi and Adil Aouchiche became the two latest youngsters to depart as they go in search of making a real name for themselves, with the former joining Bayern Munich and the latter moving to St Etienne.
Here, we take a look at some of the most notable players in more recent times who were PSG academy products, but ended up leaving to make it elsewhere…
Coman joined PSG’s youth academy back in 2004, and went on to become the club’s youngest ever debutant when he came on for his side in a clash with Sochaux in February 2013.
However, the Frenchman would make just four appearances for the first team and, having turned down the club’s offer of a professional contract, he departed in the summer of 2014 for Juventus.
His trophy cabinet is also doing pretty well these days.
Guendouzi actually spent nine years in PSG’s academy before departing for Lorient and then for Arsenal – where he is currently nowhere to be seen as a result of the recent issues he has had with his attitude.
The Frenchman, according to his agent, wasn’t athletic enough for the club’s liking, making first team opportunities hard to come by. In the end, Guendouzi left to kickstart his career and signed his first professional contract at Lorient.
Despite his current troubles, Guendouzi’s decision to leave PSG proved to be the correct one and one that has benefited his career.
PSG had very high hopes for Claudio Gomes, but after failing to agree a new contract with the defensive midfielder, Pep Guardiola and Manchester City moved quickly to secure his services.
Gomes trained with the PSG first team, but never made a senior appearance. It was initially suggested Guardiola informed the player that he would be involved with the City first team in the not too distant future and, while he is currently out on loan this season, he has already made two appearances for City’s senior side.
Yacine Adli joined PSG’s youth set-up back in 2013 and made his way up through the ranks before being handed his first team debut in May 2018.
PSG actually had to fight hard that summer to keep hold of Adli, with it suggested the youngster had agreed to follow Unai Emery to Arsenal. However. Les Parisiens managed to tie him down to a new contract.
Perhaps the club did learn their lesson – with Adli at least.
But this wasn’t the case as the club sold him for €5.5m in January 2019 to Bordeaux. The 19-year-old is now getting the game time he requires.
Still, at least PSG will make some money as they included a 40% sell-on clause in the deal.
Just three years after joining Lille on a free transfer following his departure from PSG, Soumare is now continuously linked with a big money move to a number of top clubs in Europe.
The young midfielder has impressed at Lille, with his physicality as well his technical ability making him a very promising box-to-box midfielder.
Still only 21, Soumare has a very bright career ahead of him.
Soumare would have been an excellent squad member for PSG, providing depth and challenging for a starting role. They wouldn’t have had to spend millions to bring him in either.
Diaby joined PSG’s youth set-up aged 13 and by 2016 he picked up an award as the most promising youngster in the academy.
His talent was clear for all to see, but after a 2018/19 season in which he had to compete with the top names at the club for a starting berth, he opted to make the switch to Bayer Leverkusen in the summer of 2019.
After signing, Diaby explained how he was excited to continue building momentum elsewhere – and this is exactly what he has done as he played a key role for Leverkusen in the 2019/20 campaign.
Different player, same situation.
Ikone came through the ranks after joining PSG back in 2010 and while he was handed opportunities in the first team, he was also sent out on loan.
It didn’t take long for Ikone to realise, like many before and many after, that regular opportunities in the senior squad were going to be far too challenging to come by.
As a result, he joined Lille in the summer of 2018 and has since made his debut for the France national side.
That’s how much PSG sold Mike Maignan for in the summer of 2015.
Maignan is now Lille’s undisputed first-choice shot-stopper and is being linked with a number of top clubs, including Chelsea and Manchester Utd.
A pattern is beginning to emerge, isn’t it?
At the time, it may have been a fairly bizarre choice to leave PSG and join Fulham at the age of 16 back in 2012 – but this move helped lay the foundations for Dembele’s career so far.
Since departing Paris, he has emerged as one of Europe’s most lethal strikers, grabbing 16 goals in 27 Ligue 1 appearances for Lyon in 2019/20.
Borussia Dortmund’s willingness to integrate young players into the first team was one of the main reasons Zagadou opted to make the switch back in 2017.
He was right to trust in their project.
Not only is he playing at the highest level, but he has developed into an important member of this Dortmund team.
Oh, they also signed him on a free transfer to make matters worse for PSG.
Do we even really need to mention how silly this is beginning to look for PSG?!
Once again, after departing Paris and moving to Scotland with Celtic, Edouard provided the same reasoning most people in this list also conjured up. This, however, doesn’t make it any less valid.
Like so many on this list, it has proven to be a very good decision as he has matured not only as a player, but also as a person.
The sales of Nkunku and Diaby made very little sense, not only from a financial standpoint, but also because of the quality they both possess – and they have both shown that this season in the Bundesliga.
Nkunku had already proven his talents during his time at PSG, but the club still opted to allow him to leave for just €15m.
It was naive and reckless and it simply reinforced the ever-growing belief that PSG do not give their talented youngsters a chance.
It’s no wonder Kouassi and Aouchiche decided to make their moves on free transfers.
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