Signing Angel Di Maria would boost for PSG, but at what cost? Paris Saint-Germain's pursuit of Real Madrid's Di Maria is rapidly becoming one of this summer's most drawn-out transfer sagas. Thanks to UEFA's financial fair play (FFP) sanctions, the French champions are struggling to find a way around the issue in a manner that satisfies Real enough to sell to one of their Champions League rivals.
For now, it looks like the only way PSG will be able to land the man known as El Fideo -- the noodle -- is to loan him for a season with an obligation to buy him at the end of that period, similar to the way they navigated the Serge Aurier deal last week. In order to do this, Les Parisiens must also sell one of their current stars to create enough space on their vastly over-inflated wage bill.
So, who could be the player or players to make way for the Argentine? At the moment, there appear to be four main candidates.
The most obvious name on this list is that of Edinson Cavani. However, despite his reported unhappiness in Paris, it is difficult to see exactly why PSG are Cavani's biggest problem at the moment. This summer's FIFA World Cup proved that El Matatdor's current malaise extends outside of the French capital, so the problem is likely a more personal one.
People are quick to forget just how good he was during the first half of last season for Les Rouge et Bleus. Since the start of 2014, he has lost all confidence and struggled at club and international level, but the French champions had already seen enough of Cavani by then to know that he and Zlatan Ibrahimovic can play together.
Why would PSG sell a striker in order to land a more creative player and -- more pointedly -- why sell one of the men that will be one of the main beneficiaries of the boost in creativity that Di Maria would provide? If PSG decided to cash in on Cavani now, it shows a major lack of long-term planning. Di Maria would be a great signing if it comes to fruition, but it should not come at the expense of a player as valuable as Cavani as it would require further transfer dealings.
Along with Cavani, young Brazilian defender Marquinhos appears to be PSG's most bankable star this summer. The 20-year-old is another player who has been linked with a move away from PSG in order for them to meet FFP requirements, with Barcelona firm admirers. Once again though, where is the sense in selling a player who plays in a position where Laurent Blanc's men have next to no depth, in order to obtain another creative midfielder?
If PSG were to cash in on Marquinhos, Di Maria all of a sudden becomes less of a priority. The Ligue 1 title holders would need to find an adequate replacement in defence for the young Brazilian. That would be no easy task, especially considering that the young talent's versatility means he can play in central defence and at right-back.
One of the two PSG players most threatened by the potential arrival of Di Maria is fellow Argentine Ezequiel Lavezzi. If the Real Madrid man did join the French champions, then El Pocho would suddenly become surplus to demands at Parc des Princes. Thought to be among the club's top five high-earning players, it makes sense that PSG would look to offload the 29-year-old World Cup star.
Lavezzi has struggled to truly live up to expectations since arriving in France and despite an excellent 2014 so far, his value has dropped. With his stock higher than it is ever likely to be again on the back of a good World Cup showing, now is the time for PSG to cash in on a popular but technically limited player.
The player most at risk, should Di Maria arrive, is Javier Pastore. Like Cavani and Lavezzi -- also on this list -- El Flaco is a high-earning member of the squad after heralding the start of PSG's money spending days back in 2011, when he arrived for 42 million Euros. Despite an excellent start to his career in the French capital, Pastore's star has waned at PSG and the club would be foolish to not cut him loose when they get the chance. The odd flash of brilliance cannot detract from a large number of poor performances over the past two seasons.
Who Should It Be?
While the potential signing of Di Maria would undoubtedly strengthen PSG, it should not come at any cost. PSG need to remain responsible in the face of FFP and if it means foregoing one or two expensive transfer targets until they can navigate the sanctions better, then so be it.
If they can make the necessary space on their wage bill by letting go of the likes of expendable luxury players such as Lavezzi and Pastore, then it is definitely an avenue that they should be exploring. The Real Madrid man would essentially be an upgrade on both of his fellow Argentines. However, if it comes at the cost of a key part of the squad like Cavani, or a bright young future talent like Marquinhos, then it is a deal that PSG should allow to pass them by.