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May 7, 2014

Who could leave PSG?

Following the reports that Paris Saint-Germain -- along with Manchester City -- are to be hit with a four-pronged punishment when UEFA hands out its first Financial Fair Play (FFP) sanctions later this week, immediate attention has already been turned towards how the French champions might be able to get around the potential penalties.

According to multiple reports, PSG are set to have their sizable wage bill -- Europe's largest at 240 million euros -- capped, forcing them to sell before buying and restricting any further contract extensions until there have been some departures. UEFA are also expected to ask the Parisians to limit their transfer activity, allowing them to buy one player at a price of 60 million euros, but prohibiting them from breaking that amount down into two or smaller, separate sums.

In addition to this, PSG's UEFA Champions League squad next season will be limited to 21 players instead of the regular 25. However, eight of this 21-man group would need to be considered homegrown players. On top of that, the capital club will have to pay a 60 million euro fine over a three-year period and reduce their losses to 30 million euros -- not the 45 million euros initially stipulated by FFP rules -- by the end of next season.

If accurate, the news presents a serious challenge to PSG's ambitious owners -- Qatar Sports Investments (QSI) -- who are believed to have failed to convince UEFA that their mammoth sponsorship deal with Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) is not overvalued. In order for the Ligue 1 champions-elect to now strengthen a squad that reached the Champions League quarterfinals for a second consecutive season, the French giants will have to trim their group considerably and embark upon an intelligent transfer campaign.

Because of the news, there are bound to be some casualties at the Parc des Princes. Here are a few of the possible players that might be pushed towards the exit in the French capital this summer.

Regardless of whether or not PSG had been slapped with FFP sanctions, the Parisians would have dispensed with the services of French international Jeremy Menez and veteran defender Zoumana Camara anyway. Back surgery at the beginning of the season effectively cost Menez his position in the starting XI, while 35-year-old Camara has gradually slipped into retirement over the course of the campaign. Both are well recompensed in their roles as fringe players.

With the news of UEFA's impending FFP actions, the time appears to have arrived for PSG to bid farewell to under-performing Argentine Javier Pastore. El Flaco arrived in Paris from Italian side Palermo for the princely sum of 42 million euros in 2011 and has only fleetingly shown the sort of form expected of such a significant investment. The 24-year-old looks a shadow of his former self with the capital outfit and the club should be looking to get the best deal possible -- or use him in a part-exchange deal -- to get his handsome wages off of the over-inflated payroll.

Another Argentine who could exit PSG this summer is Ezequiel Lavezzi. El Pocho has enjoyed a fantastic start to 2014 -- scoring eight goals in all competitions since the turn of the year -- but those figures are deceiving. Overall the 29-year-old has not proven himself to be worth the 30 million euros paid for him in 2012 during his time at the club. Thought to be PSG's joint-fourth highest earner along with Blaise Matuidi, the French champions would do well to cash in while the South American's stock is high.

Up until a few weeks ago, it looked likely that experienced Brazilian defender Alex was going to pen a new and improved contract to keep him in the French capital for another two season. Now, it looks unlikely that PSG will risk further inflating their massive wage bill in order to keep a cumbersome 31-year-old when there is 32 million euro 19-year-old defender Marquinhos waiting to be given his chance alongside his compatriot and likely future international centre-back partner Thiago Silva. Alex is also thought to be one of PSG's top-10 earners without signing a new contract, so would significantly help to trim unnecessary salary expenditure.

One surprise name that could exit the Parc des Princes this summer is Maxwell. After two fantastic seasons of unerringly consistent performances for PSG, the 32-year-old is finally showing his age and talented 20-year-old French international Lucas Digne -- a 15 million euro signing last summer -- has proven that he is ready to take over the starting left-back role in the French capital. Maxwell, like Alex, is also one of the club's highest earners and recently extended his contract.

Two other fringe members of the PSG squad that could be let go of are French duo Christophe Jallet and Nicolas Douchez. Neither is considered integral parts of the starting XI, but both are well-paid as far as the club's domestic contingent are concerned. With the likes of promising full-back Youssouf Sabaly impressing on loan at Evian Thonon Gaillard and French under-20 World Cup-winning goalkeeper Alphonse Areola displaying remarkable maturity in Ligue 2 with RC Lens, coach Laurent Blanc has capable young talents available if the club decide to sell Jallet and Douchez.

PSG's diminutive Italian midfielder Marco Verratti is by no means for sale this summer, but the 21-year-old could now be used by the French giants as part of a deal to lure Juventus' Paul Pogba to the capital. The French international, born and raised in Paris -- but crucially educated by second tier side Le Havre -- will now appeal more than ever with PSG needing to boost their number of quality homegrown players for their 21-man Champions League squad.

The likes of Chelsea's Eden Hazard -- educated by Lille OSC -- as well as Real Madrid's Karim Benzema -- an Olympique Lyonnais youth academy product -- will also be key targets for PSG as they try to use their dispensable current talents to snare these star names. Real Sociedad's Antoine Griezmann could become less of a priority as he was raised by the Spanish club and not in France, but he is now a full international with les Bleus. PSG academy product Clement Chantome returning from a season-long loan at Toulouse is another possibility.

In purely financial terms, star man Zlatan Ibrahimovic is the biggest problem on the PSG payroll -- earning a staggering annual basic wage of 15 million euros -- but the Swede is one of a select few indispensable players for the French champions, despite the fact that he will soon turn 33. The Parisians need to keep likes of Edinson Cavani and Lucas Moura -- two of the side's most productive players -- if at all possible. However, it also likely that both will be seen as ideal makeweights in any potential moves for the likes of Hazard and Pogba -- although neither can be considered underperformers on the scale of Pastore or Lavezzi -- so could still find themselves sacrificed.

Whatever happens when UEFA finally make the sanctions public knowledge, it promises to be an intriguing summer for PSG once again. The capital club remain optimistic that they will be busy in the transfer window trying to strengthen this season's potentially double-winning team, but the impending FFP punishments could spark an exodus of overpaid talent.