Blanc facing same midfield headache as Ancelotti

Posted by Jonathan Johnson

Martin Rose/Getty ImagesWith so much talent in the PSG midfield, a high-priced player like Javier Pastore may be resigned to the bench for much of the season.

Throughout his time at Paris Saint-Germain, Carlo Ancelotti struggled to find the best way to accommodate the side's abundance of top midfield talents despite the positive results on the pitch. Blaise Matuidi and Marco Verratti thrived under the Italian, particularly the former, and Lucas Moura looks to be a phenomenal talent on the right for PSG once he truly finds his feet in Ligue 1.

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However, Javier Pastore was often played wide on the left with Ezequiel Lavezzi pushed forward to play alongside Zlatan Ibrahimovic. With Edinson Cavani brought in to play alongside the Swede this summer as a natural partner, Lavezzi will likely be pushed back to the role wide on the left where he was so good for Napoli.

Admittedly, he could find himself on the bench as PSG's third-choice striker should they not sign a replacement for Kevin Gameiro, but equally Pastore could be the one dislodged.

Once again the most pertinent question is how to accommodate the Argentine playmaker.

Matuidi is an undisputed starter for both club and country. The 26-year-old was a revelation under Ancelotti last season and has emerged as one of the best all-action midfielders in world football, let along Ligue 1. Assuming that the Italian's replacement, Laurent Blanc, keeps roughly the same shape as his predecessor, PSG will be playing with a central midfield pairing.

So the only question would be who plays alongside the Frenchman.

Given the fight that Verratti's contract extension has created in the last few weeks, it would appear that the diminutive Italian is considered as one of Blanc's key players. What sense would it make otherwise to give in to the demands of the talented, but temperamental midfield sensation and his pushy agent Donato Di Campli?

Verratti is the perfect partner for Matuidi in the PSG midfield at present. He excels in the deep-lying role next to the Frenchman and, on his day, exhibits an exquisite range of passing and metronomic distribution from his base in front of the defence.

As we saw in the second half of the 2011-2012 season under Ancelotti, Pastore cannot play in that deep-lying role and becomes even more of ghostly presence than he was last term out wide. Assuming Lucas and Lavezzi play out wide on either side of Cavani and Ibrahimovic, it makes the possibility of the former Palermo man dropping to the bench a distinct possibility.

Another potential scenario -- and one that has not really been considered yet -- is that it would be the Brazilian sensation who'd make way for the continued accommodation of Pastore instead. The Argentine is a frustrating player at times, but there can be no doubt that when he does contribute, it is a telling action. The goals scored against Valencia and Barcelona in the Champions League, as well as the solitary strike at Evian in Le Championnat, were vital.

Moura has yet to deliver those sorts of crucial differences, even if his prodigious talent is clear for all to see at the Parc des Princes. Injuries and adapting to France have played their part in that slower than expected start to life in the French capital, but more is demanded of him going into this season considering his giant transfer value.

Let's not forget about Thiago Motta either. The Italian international is a vital player for PSG when fit, and has figured prominently in pre-season. However, the question marks over his fitness are substantial and the probability of him keeping Verratti or Matuidi out of the side on a regular basis is slim.

Then there is the young sensation, Adrien Rabiot, who is currently wowing those watching the under-19 European Championship in Lithuania where the teenager has inspired Les Bleus to the final against Serbia. The 18-year-old spent the second half of last season out on loan with Toulouse where he was a revelation, and he has declared himself "ready to play" this season with Blanc admitting "he is a player that I like."

PSG would be foolish not to persevere with Rabiot because of his phenomenal potential, but one problem with the youngster is his delicate family situation. Because of his terminally ill father, the player and his family are keen for him to be as close to home as possible. Obviously that is not possible if he is playing regularly for the capital club, but if not, Rabiot can hardly demand to start the majority of matches.

Instead a loan deal may be the better option once more, even though there is no doubt that the Frenchman can offer something to the team immediately.

On reflection, it is little wonder that Clement Chantome, Mathieu Bodmer and Momo Sissoko are all seeking a move away from the club with such competition, even if the former is reluctant to leave the club that raised him and still arguably offers plenty. But it does make the suggestions from the press that the French champions are courting Roma's Daniele De Rossi, Lazio's Hernanes and Bayern Munich's Luiz Gustavo all the more confusing. Where would they fit?

Ancelotti was posed constant headaches in his time at PSG with the same problems and Blanc will no doubt be discovering the same. One thing that is for sure is without any further reinforcements this summer, someone at the club will already be the odd man out.


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