Just like against Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League round of 16 home and away, Paris Saint-Germain came undone at the hands of a former player on Sunday. Arnaud Kalimuendo scored Stade Rennais’ second goal in a 2-0 Ligue 1 victory at Parc des Princes in the latest example of youth academy produce harming the capital club. Kingsley Coman set Bayern on their way to their 3-0 aggregate success over PSG with ex-Parisien Eric Maxim Choupo Moting adding further insult to injury.
It is a lesson that the French champions need to heed to avoid further talent leaving the club and later coming back to haunt them.
Warren Zaire Emery is the latest gem off the academy production line and although he was put in the shade by Kalimuendo, Desire Doue and Lesley Ugochukwu here, he could be a future star. The situation with Kalimuendo was inevitable in many ways given that he looked sharp during preseason, was sold anyway and that his replacement Hugo Ekitike has struggled after joining from Reims.
However, things are more acute now with Lionel Messi and Sergio Ramos’ contracts running out and another summer makeover needed.
Zaire Emery is not the only bright spot for PSG in an otherwise bleak season with the emergence of El Chadaille Bitshiabu and Timothee Pembele also notable. The 17-year-old midfielder has adapted the best to senior professional soccer, though, and is expected to be a significant part of any rebuild.
This sort of showing in defeat against Rennes underlined why PSG would be right to move forward with quality from within their own academy than buying in more star power. Despite Mbappe, Messi, Ramos, and Neymar’s presences, Champions League success is ever further away while Adrien Rabiot, Christopher Nkunku and Moussa Diaby are excelling elsewhere.
There is an argument that had PSG focused on the young talents they had since Mbappe’s 2017 arrival then they might now be contenders. The French superstar has been part of this failed quest for continental glory with a star-studded squad yet is regularly the team’s best player and crucially hails from the Paris region.
Since the Bayern setback there has been a recognition that something more substantial than last summer’s semi overhaul and it could be that the youth academy points the way forward. With an impressive campus under construction which will further aid the production of fantastic young talent, all of the ingredients are there.
It just needs a concerted effort by PSG to place its faith in quality players closer to home than continuing to chase some of the biggest names in the game who regularly crack under expectations. Mbappe, Zaire Emery and Bitshiabu should be part of any summer rebuild and with a number of quality players hailing from the capital region available this summer, things can finally change.