PSG’s sensible dealings overshadowed by Cavani injury?

Posted by Jonathan Johnson

Paris Saint-Germain's January transfer window dealings started and ended with Yohan Cabaye. However, the injury suffered by Edinson Cavani that forced him off late in Friday's 2-0 win over Girondins de Bordeaux in the league threatens to undermine the club's relatively reserved approach to the market last month.

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The Uruguayan is set to be absent for at least three weeks, meaning he will miss the Coupe de la Ligue semi-final against FC Nantes and the showdown with title rivals AS Monaco next week. In addition to those two crunch domestic matches, he will also miss PSG's UEFA Champions League first leg clash away to German side Bayer Leverkusen.

Cavani's absence will come as a blow for coach Laurent Blanc, particularly just after he alleviated the growing pressure on his midfield unit in light of Adrien Rabiot's injury by swelling the ranks with Cabaye. Now, instead of the pressure being on Thiago Motta, Blaise Matuidi or Marco Verratti not to get injured, it is on key man Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

The French champions do also have Hervin Ongenda capable of playing in the centre of the attack, but Blanc will be loath to use him from the start of matches if necessary because of his inexperience. However, outside of the French youngster and Ibrahimovic, the options are not favourable. Ezequiel Lavezzi has played in the centre of the attack before, as has Jeremy Menez, but neither are prolific enough to merit that position in the side ordinarily.

While Ibrahimovic remains fit, there is no problem. But if the talismanic Swede was to succumb to an injury or incur a suspension, then the fragility of PSG's squad depth will once again be called into question. Cavani's absence is manageable, as long as Ibrahimovic is not unavailable at any point during the three to six week period that his strike partner might miss.

Prior to that Cavani injury though, the side from the capital had fared well in January.

Blanc resisted the temptation to make wholesale changes to his squad, instead electing to strengthen in the one area that he knew the team really needed cover. Crucially, though, Le President managed to keep all of the players that he entered the transfer market with. That is because this year PSG's rotation system has been far better and fairer than it was under previous coach Carlo Ancelotti.

The Italian was inflexible when it came to his team selections and Rabiot, Guillaume Hoarau, Nene, Mohamed Sissoko, Mathieu Bodmer, Diego Lugano and Peguy Luyindula were all either sold or loaned out at this time last year. All seven were registered as part of last season's Champions League squad and Lucas Moura as well as David Beckham were introduced as part of a significant squad change.

PSG's group of stellar talent is more settled this time around and, although there are arguably one or two players who perhaps would have considered leaving last month, nobody pushed for an exit and so there were no departures. This continuity bodes well ahead of the resumption of Champions League action and the continued fight on three fronts, including Le Championnat and the Coupe de la Ligue.

If nit-picking, then perhaps Blanc could have done with either a right-back or another central defender in order to ensure adequate coverage following a spate of injury issues in the back four already this season. However, generally speaking, it is a very strong group that offers the Frenchman plenty of tactical flexibility.

Cavani's injury will also open up an immediate opportunity for Moura to build on his encouraging, although imperfect, performance against Bordeaux. It will also keep the door open for fellow South Americans Lavezzi and Javier Pastore, when it should have perhaps closed on El Flaco in the same way that it has done for French international Menez.

Should Pastore be handed another chance to impress on Tuesday in the Coupe de la Ligue semi-final at Nantes, a move that would represent a considerable gamble from Blanc, then he has to take the chance and start making telling contributions. The Argentine's recent performances, while aesthetically pleasing at times, have flattered to deceive with very little in terms of solid contribution in the form of goals or assists.

Cavani's absence will give Moura and Pastore a little bit longer to state their cases for inclusion, but there are still enough alternative options for both to find themselves out of the starting XI if either fail to grasp this opportunity. An injury to Ibrahimovic on the other hand, would pose Blanc an entirely different headache altogether.


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