PSG's Thilo Kehrer move over Jerome Boateng is sound business sense
Paris Saint-Germain have signed defender Thilo Kehrer from Schalke, which has ended interest in Bayern Munich's Jerome Boateng, a source close to the French champions has told ESPN FC.
Kehrer, 21, arrives for €37 million and has signed a five-year contract at Parc des Princes, boosting coach Thomas Tuchel's defensive options and enabling sporting director Antero Henrique to focus on a new left-back and a new defensive midfielder before the transfer window closes.
The source explained that Les Parisiens secretly pursued Kehrer at the same time as Boateng but once the greater overall cost (transfer fee and salary) of the 2014 World Cup winner was made clear, Les Parisiens went for the youngster.
Kehrer's €37 million fee is high, particularly for an under-21 international who had less than 12 months of contract left, but Schalke sporting director Christian Heidel explained in the Germans' statement last weekend that a new contract had been agreed before PSG arrived.
PSG signing Kehrer is a smarter move than it looks and arguably more logical than one for Boateng.
Yes, the Ligue 1 giants need experience and character to create a stronger collective mentality if they want to avoid the sorts of collapses that seen against Barcelona and Real Madrid in the Champions League in recent seasons.
However, for that to happen with Boateng, he would have had to play -- something that cannot be guaranteed given the 29-year-old's injury history.
Kehrer gives Tuchel central defensive depth, so the German tactician can persevere with the three-man unit that he has tested during preseason, but perhaps more crucially, captain Thiago Silva, Marquinhos or Presnel Kimpembe (who has just signed a contract extension) will not feel usurped.
With less experience than Boateng, Kehrer still has a long way to go in a developmental sense, so he cannot expect a starting role from the off. Had the former Manchester City man been signed, Silva, Marquinhos or Kimpembe would have had to accommodate him regularly.
The addition of Kehrer has shades of Marquinhos' 2013 arrival -- he joined from Roma for a similarly inflated fee (after fewer senior matches) and was initially behind Silva and Alex in the pre-David Luiz pecking order.
Luiz replaced Alex in 2014 and although Marquinhos was third choice on paper, he still enjoyed similar playing time to his compatriots, and was ready to take over as an undisputed starter when Luiz returned to Chelsea at the start of his third full term.
Now 24, Marquinhos is Silva's regular central defensive partner and Kimpembe has filled his former role until now, which should be passed to Kehrer as Tuchel establishes his three-man unit this season.
Logically, the young German will gradually usurp the ageing Silva and be ready to take over from the skipper when his contract ends in 2020.
Despite his debatable price tag, signing Kehrer now is sensible as it enables them to focus on Tuchel's two other areas of need -- left-back and defensive midfield.
UEFA's indecision over their re-review of PSG's Financial Fair Play (FFP) status has dictated that Henrique and Tuchel have been unable to land their main targets -- Boateng, Alex Sandro and N'Golo Kante.
Sandro might still arrive but that is looking increasingly unlikely and loan moves, or free transfers, may well be the best way for the capital club to fill their two remaining gaps -- at least they can get on with it now, though.
According to the source, PSG suspect that UEFA's stance on their FFP status will not change but that European football's governing body will wait until transfer window has closed or announce their decision with little business time remaining -- effectively limiting their spending power without official sanction.
For their part, UEFA do not know when they will be ready to communicate their position over the French giants.
Sources have told ESPN FC that PSG feel UEFA keeping them in limbo (i.e. not making a final decision on their review into their initial verdict on PSG's FFP status) is a way of appeasing the established powers of European football (Javier Tebas on behalf on La Liga, for one) who are still furious about the Ligue 1 giants' recent moves. These include the signings of Neymar from Barcelona last summer and Kylian Mbappe from Monaco on an initial loan from Monaco.
Rightly or wrongly, PSG's suspicions appear to be well-founded and they have struggled to strengthen as they would have liked this summer -- barring a UEFA announcement soon, loans with options to buy or free agents are the only avenues open to Henrique.
On top of the FFP complications, PSG want to keep youth academy products like Stanley N'Soki and Arthur Zagre, both of whom are currently hesitating over professional contracts.
Bringing in others after Kehrer will make this an even greater challenge, so the German will likely form part of a step into the future with a smaller squad that places greater emphasis on young and homegrown players.