"Defense wins championships." A saying that a lot of sports fans have heard before. To an extent this is true, in football the team that concedes the least while scoring the most wins the match; which is a simple concept.
It is no surprise that PSG's back line has been impacted by injuries, hence the signings of Milan Skriniar and Lucas Hernández during the summer transfer window. However, with Presnel Kimpembe coming back to the squad, someone who has been a vital asset on the pitch over the last few seasons, I would like to talk about how his return impacts the team.
Firstly, we would have to look at this from a tactical standpoint. Luis Enrique has not really varied from playing with four defenders in his formation. In doing this, PSG concede an average of 0.8 goals in Ligue 1, and an average of 1.5 goals in the Champions league.
Enrique's defense has also accumulated 6 clean sheets in Ligue 1, ranking second in the league. The back line we consistently see includes Achraf Hakimi, Marquinhos, Skriniar, and Hernández.
To be perfectly honest, I am not entirely sold on the center-back pairing. Marquinhos, as vital as he is to our squad, can make major mistakes in big games, or even play as if he disappears. Skriniar has started to grow on me, still, I feel as though he can be too patient at times during 1-on-1s, which results in a chance for the other team.
Hakimi has solidified his position at right-back, and I could not be happier with him. He and Ousmane Dembele have formed a lightning-quick partnership on the right flank which has proved to be deadly.
Hernandez has played well at left-back; but I would like to see him get more minutes at center-back, which is his natural position.
The impact of Kimpembe on the team has the potential to be huge. He has established himself as a consistently solid defender and will get to rival Skriniar and Marquinhos for a starting spot, and honestly, I think he could be starting by the end of the season if he plays well. I want to see Enrique try to play him over Marquinhos as a little test run.
I feel as though Kimpembe can provide a little more speed and height that Marquinhos does not really have. Now, do not get me wrong, Marquinhos is a world-class defender and has been for years. He is our captain, and I would not want to have it any other way. Realistically, I do not think Enrique will move Marquinhos from his defense anytime soon so that leaves Kimpembe and Skriniar battling for a starting spot, which I am interested to see unfold.
These two defenders each bring something different to the table. Skriniar is a slower, more patient defender whereas Kimpembe is a much quicker and tends to make a move sooner rather than later.
Needless to say, Luis Enrique has a big decision to make soon.
I also want to briefly touch upon the left-back situation. Hernandez has been playing well, but it is not his natural position, and Nuno Mendes is out with an injury, opening the door for a new arrival in January. I saw a rumor that we were interested in signing Alphonso Davies. As much of an optimistic fan I am, I simply do not think this is a realistic arrival. This player who we would sign would have to be able to walk in the door and compete for a starting spot.
The team is full of talent in every position, so it would not be an easy thing to do.
In doing a little bit of research, I found a couple of players who would do well under Luis Enrique, who strives for a very hard-working back line.
The first name that piqued my interest was Brighton defender Pervis Estupinan. The Ecuadorian has proved himself in the Premier League, and the speedy defender would be a comfortable fit into our backline. His market value would be something around €35 million. He has 1 goal, and three assists in 6 appearances for Roberto De Zerbi's side, which, for a defender, are impressive numbers.
The other option who I would be happy with as a backup would be Manchester United's Tyrell Malacia. The Dutchman struggles to get minutes under Erik Ten Hag, as he favors Luke Shaw, however, that does not mean Malacia cannot make an impact on PSG. When I have watched him play over the previous years, he has provided a spark to the Manchester United attack, which is much needed. He and Rashford form a dangerous duo on the left flank, and with Kylian Mbappe on our left wing, I think the two of them would be able to do some serious damage.
Realistically, when he is back, Nuno Mendes starts. The downside is that he is an injury-prone player, and his recovery timetable is never clear. I think that these two players can provide more depth and competition to the squad, as well as talent, which is always welcome to a world-class team.