Serge Aurier deal smart business for PSG
After a period of drawn-out negotiating, Paris Saint-Germain finally completed the signing of Serge Aurier from Toulouse on Wednesday. The Cote d'Ivoire FIFA World Cup star might only have arrived on loan, but capturing the 21-year-old right-back is the best signing the French champions could have made this summer.
PSG needed Aurier and instead of addressing their wants -- normally big money marquee signings -- this time they went out and got the ideal man for the position without thinking about prestige and reputation. In the young African, they have a player who can not only step in immediately and start delivering for the team but a player who can grow with the Ligue 1 title holders in the future.
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The reason Les Parisiens needed Aurier is that since March, it has become obvious that Gregory van der Wiel's knee issues are quite serious.
Earlier this summer, the Dutchman missed PSG's pre-season training camp in Austria, despite the fact that it start just days after the players returned from an extended summer break. Chronic tendonitis in his knee ruined the end of a brilliant last season for Van der Wiel and it may have jeopardised this coming campaign as well, with his appearance in the 2-1 friendly win over OGC Nice on Wednesday his first of the summer. It remains to be seen whether or not his involvement in the first 45 minutes of that match in Beziers will prompt the problem to resurface.
On top of that, PSG have allowed former captain Christophe Jallet to move on to Olympique Lyonnais after five loyal years of service.
Although Van der Wiel will be considered first choice at Parc des Princes for now, there is no guarantee he will be able to hold up all season against a recurring problem that ruled him out of this summer's World Cup. Because of that, the chances are that PSG have not just bought Aurier with a squad rotation role in mind, Laurent Blanc will have long-term designs on making the Ivorian a key member of the starting 11.
Aurier is a player perfectly suited to Blanc's style of play; he is extremely attack-minded, can score goals and provide them in equal measure and is extremely fast and physical. Last season, in Ligue 1, he managed to score six times and provided another six goals in 34 appearances for mid-table Toulouse.
Considering Le President likes to play with marauding full-backs, an Aurier-Lucas Digne combination could make PSG extremely dangerous on both flanks this coming season and it also gives Blanc a bit of tactical flexibility. With two excellent wide defensive players, capable of getting up and down the pitch to attack numerous times during games, the need for wide players up top -- an area of inefficiency for PSG last season -- now becomes less important.
Considering how striker Edinson Cavani is desperate to play in his preferred central alongside Zlatan Ibrahimovic and not to one side, Aurier's addition makes it less likely that El Matador will occupy the same wide berth as last season. Instead, Blanc could opt to keep his prized three-man midfield but put a roaming creative talent like Lucas Moura -- or Real Madrid's Angel Di Maria -- behind Ibrahimovic and Cavani, in place of the third attacker from last season's 4-3-3.
Alternatively, Aurier would also function well in that same 4-3-3 system. The only problem is that Ligue 1 rivals had worked out ways to beat that system by the end of last season. It would be a shame not to get the most out of talents like Aurier, Digne, Lucas and Cavani by not playing them in a system that would arguably suit them better.
While he might have to wait a short while to break into the first team, there is little doubt that Aurier will need to wait long before he is thrust into the thick of it with Blanc's men. PSG have captured a major talent and that talent now needs to be nurtured and developed into the world-class right-back the 21-year-old promises to become. In time, Aurier could prove to be one of PSG's best signings of the Qatar Sports Investments era.