PSG won't have many international players available until January
The World Cup is still going on with the third-place game and the final taking place this weekend in Qatar. PSG is back on the training ground and playing their first mid-season friendly on Friday. The situation is going to put PSG in a very precarious position to start the second half of the season.
PSG scheduled their return to training for Wednesday, Dec. 7. That date was, of course, just one for those without any sort of involvement in international duties to keep in mind.
The likes of Sergio Ramos, Nordi Mukiele, and Renato Sanches, as good as they are, were not called up by their nations to play in the World Cup so all of them were back training at Camp des Loges last week.
Those pertaining to the Italian ranks, namely Marco Verratti and Gianluigi Donnarumma, returned to training this week as they were part of some international friendlies with their nation even though they didn't go to Qatar.
For the World Cup participants, though, things are looking much more long-termed when it comes to their returns.
PSG will miss most of their starters until at least mid-January and might suffer to advance in the French Cup and retain the lead in the Ligue 1
French newspaper Le Parisien, in a story published on Thursday, informed about PSG coach Christophe Galtier "not taking any risks" with their returning internationals in preparation for the second half of the season.
Even those eliminated early, such as Costa Rica international Keylor Navas, have yet to make their return to Paris to join the rest of the PSG players at training. That elimination, just in case, happened more than two weeks ago.
Navas, along with Pablo Sarabia and Carlos Soler (both eliminated from contention on Dec. 6 after Spain's defeat to Morocco) are expected back at the training ground "soon", but still without a date set in stone.
France international Presnel Kimpembe, who ultimately missed on making it to Qatar with the French side, is now more than probably going to miss the remainder of the year recovering from his Achilles injury.
Brazil internationals Neymar and Marquinhos, to pieces of utmost importance for PSG's large aspirations, will be handed ample room to make their comebacks. Galtier, who had already said that he would give his players "10-plus days of rest after completing their international duties" before coming back, is now extending that deadline to an even further two-week leeway.
Don't expect Neymar nor Marquinhos back training until, at the very least, the week after Christmas.
And all of the above, of course, still leaves all three of Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe, and Achraf Hakimi in an even more complicated situation related to Galtier dealing with their returns and upcoming absences.
The trio of internationals will feature in World Cup games on Saturday and Sunday. They are all expected to start their third-place and final games, and they will then be given a 10-day vacation period after that. That is already putting them on a return date approaching New Year's Eve with a game taking place on Jan. 1st against second-place RC Lens.
There is little to no chance for PSG to be able to use Neymar, Marquinhos, Kimpembe, Messi, Mbappe, and Hakimi until, at least, their French Cup game against Chateauroux on Jan. 6. That, though, won't happen.
First of all, it's a cup game against a much less talented club. Second, Galtier has allowed 10-day vacations to their returning players, and he's now seemingly content with them taking 14-plus days of rest. Third, PSG are reportedly not willing to risk any sort of injury related to rushing their players back to the field.
Finally, players have to actually train for a while after returning, putting them closer to a three-week rather than a two-week return schedule. That means that all of those players mentioned above, clear-cut starters in any European elite club, are looking at a Jan. 11 return (Ligue 1 game at the Parc hosting Angers) at the earliest.
PSG will need to navigate their way through December and half of January with a subpar, full-of-reserves-and-youngsters squad and try to come out alive ahead of Jan. 15's clash against Rennes.
They'll be happy if they can advance in the cup and fend off RC Lens keeping them at distance in the league. We can only wait and see how Galtier deals with all of this.