Do PSG need Yohan Cabaye?

Posted by Jonathan Johnson

Speculation persists that Paris Saint-Germain are set to make a bid for Newcastle United's Yohan Cabaye before the end of the transfer window despite coach Laurent Blanc's recent admission that he needs to "sell one or two players" before making any further moves. Premier League side Arsenal have also emerged as rivals for his signature, but, given Arsene Wenger's prudent approach, PSG will be confident that they can gazump the Gunners in their bid for the France international.

- Duffy: Nothing has changed
- Duffy: Poor Yohan

However, the real question is do the French champions actually need Cabaye at this moment? On the face of it the answer would be no. At present, the PSG midfield is well stocked with top talent and it is difficult to see where the 27-year-old would fit in.

Blaise Matuidi is irreplaceable in the capital side's midfield. When he is fit, the France international will start every match and has become a vital part of the PSG jigsaw. His consistency is such that even Thiago Motta, another high quality player in a similar mould, is unable to oust him from the team and instead partners the 26-year-old in the centre of the park so both can be accommodated.

Blanc's current preferred partnership means that Italian sensation Marco Verratti, who recently signed a bumper new contract, is only on the fringes of the first team trying to break into the plans of ‘Le President'. The 20-year-old Azzurri international is more than talented enough to start alongside Matuidi, but lacks the same discipline and composure as Motta at present, despite exceeding him in terms of technical ability.

All three are starting XI quality players vying for the two central positions afforded by the necessity of playing with two men up top given the presence of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and summer signing Edinson Cavani. However, PSG have also stated their intent to hold on to burgeoning teenage talent Adrien Rabiot this season, rejecting the offer of another loan spell at Toulouse and sending Clement Chantome there for the season instead.

The 18-year-old spoke pre-season of his desire to play regular first-team football, whether it was on loan or in the French capital, and Blanc's firm desire to keep the Under-19 international suggests that he will be given a chance to stake his claims for regular minutes. That means there are four midfielders already vying for just two positions.

Of course in football you can never rule out the possibility of a potential injury crisis, as we saw with Matuidi's nasty head injury against Ajaccio last week that might force him out of the clash with Nantes. But is there any point in buying Cabaye as a 'just in case' player?

Despite Blanc's affection for the player he calls "the French Xavi", the Newcastle man would be part of a squad rotation system at best with PSG because he simply cannot expect to walk into the side ahead of such talent.

Yohan Cabaye France celeb
PA PhotosYohan Cabaye was a favourite of Laurent Blanc's during the former's time in charge of France.

There is also the question of logistics with the likes of Verratti being handed such a handsome pay rise. Will the combustible Italian really accept being demoted as low as fourth in the pecking order behind Matuidi, Motta and Cabaye? Unlikely. Also, why renew the contract of an in-demand talent at such high cost only to then bring in another competitor undermining any potential planning for the future.

On the plus side of the potential signing, Cabaye is French. He would arrive at a time when elements of the domestic talent in the current squad are being shown the door on loan or permanently, with many disgruntled at the intense level of competition within the side. Blanc knows Cabaye well, trusts him implicitly and can get the best out of him having already coached him with the French national team.

Potentially the former Lille man adds balanced and highly technical qualities to the midfield, but they are qualities that the squad is not really lacking in that area at present anyway. Instead there are other parts of the team that need attention before Blanc can think about adding a luxury signing to an already dense midfield.

Does Blanc actually have a say though? There is no doubt that the 47-year-old is a big fan of the midfielder, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the PSG hierarchy will sanction his signing when they have been linked with more prestigious names such as Daniele de Rossi and Hernanes. Indeed, there is little in the way of concrete evidence to suggest that the speculation linking PSG with the Newcastle man is even genuine.

Is Cabaye a big enough name and is he of genuine top quality that is in line and above the high standard set in other areas of the defending champions' squad? That is debatable. The French international would be a decent signing from a squad point of view, but is it really a move for the long term?

It is difficult to argue that Cabaye offers more than the promise of the younger Matuidi and Verratti. His arrival, should it happen, would almost certainly push brilliant young prospect Rabiot completely out of the picture, undermining the purpose of PSG's fruitful youth academy.

Chantome's departure may have been inevitable, but it was also understandable. Leaving on loan softens the blow of separating with a player who has become a part of the furniture at the Parc des Princes and is one of the fans, but simply is not good enough anymore to play a truly meaningful part in the club's bright future. Rabiot far exceeds Chantome's ability and is the new face of PSG's domestic representation, but to realise his awesome potential he needs opportunities to grow.

Signing Cabaye may marginally improve the overall squad depth by virtue of his superior experience, but PSG risk losing a potential top quality home grown gem if they put unnecessary pressure on Rabiot with the lavish and not entirely necessary addition of the Newcastle man.


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