Evra or Cole: Who Do PSG Need More?

Posted by Jonathan Johnson

Franck Fife/AFP/Getty ImagesWould acquiring French international Patrice Evra help PSG?

In recent weeks Paris Saint-Germain have been linked with bids for both French international left back Patrice Evra and England's Ashley Cole in the January transfer window. Both players would undoubtedly bring some much-needed balance to the Parc des Princes defence but with Maxwell already installed in the left-sided berth, any arrival would be considered competition to the Brazilian.

Neither Evra nor Cole would move to France to play second fiddle, so who does Carlo Ancelotti need more, if at all?

Since the start of the season it has been painfully obvious PSG needed cover on both defensive flanks. Dutch international Gregory van der Wiel was brought in to challenge French international Christophe Jallet before the close of the summer transfer window in August, but no left-back arrived.

Throughout the season Ancelotti has regularly played without a recognised left-back either to cover absences elsewhere or to push Maxwell into midfield where he has been highly effective.

If successful in landing one of the Premier League-based pair, it would afford Ancelotti further flexibility on the left where the only genuinely left-footed options available are the Brazilian duo of Maxwell and Nene (although Blaise Matuidi has filled in admirably at times). More important though, it has been down the flanks at the back where PSG have been most susceptible this year and the lack of a pair of genuinely reserved fullbacks has meant a lack of balance in defence.

In both Cole and Evra you have top class left-backs who would immediately offer the reassuring presence Ancelotti craves. The pair can attack and defend in equal measure while the likes of Jallet and van der Wiel will often be caught high up the pitch. Maxwell is more reserved than his right-sided teammates, but he is still required to bomb forward to offset the lack of a fixed left-sided presence in the side until Ancelotti’s recent switch to a 4-4-2 with wide men.

Evra is perhaps the obvious choice for the role given that he is French, an international and his status as current Manchester United captain (former French captain too) would mean that Ancelotti would have another experienced head to offset the paucity of influential veterans in the team.

Also 31, Cole is not French and nor does he speak the language although he does bring his own unique combination to the side.

The Englishman is arguably in better overall form than Evra on evidence of the past few seasons and can boast a similar level of experience despite never having shouldered the captaincy for club or country. Both, however, have won the Champions League, the Holy Grail for PSG owners Qatar Sports Investments, and their additions would take the weight off of the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who is currently the club’s most seasoned player at the highest level.

Both are questionable influences off the pitch, though; Cole for his ability to make the front pages as well as the back, and Evra not least for his role in the Knysa uprising against les Bleus’ then-coach Raymond Domenech.

The problem for Ancelotti would be that it adds two more moving parts to an already-complex starting lineup, further hindering the side’s fluidity. Evra would perhaps bed in better than Cole from strictly a communication point of view, but the Englishman’s ability on the pitch would do the talking for him and pragmatically; the Chelsea man would arguably add more fluidity to the team’s play.

The club would be looking at a high salary for both though (strictly thinking European football), and Evra would also require a transfer fee while Cole is approaching the end of his contract in London. The fee for Evra would be nominal and likely in the region of 5 million euros, but despite the emergence of Alexander Buttner, there is no guarantee that Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson would let him go at that price.

If either were to arrive, what then would happen to Maxwell? Ancelotti would no doubt make his midfield conversion permanent given the Brazilian’s impressive performances further forward so far this term. The former Barcelona and Inter Milan man has demonstrated his goal-scoring prowess with strikes against Montpellier and Troyes (a sublime lob against last season’s champions), but his three assists have also come in games where he has been asked to push forward.

The Italian has often opted to play either Jallet or a centre-back on the left instead of use reserve Siaka Tiene, underlining the importance of the addition of another left-back.

With Cole playing in the FIFA Club World Cup now, overall victory there would mean that the former Arsenal man has won everything he possibly can with the Blues.

According to his agent, the contact with PSG is concrete and the player is interested, whereas with Evra - although he has stated that a return to his childhood home of Paris appeals to him - the move doesn’t seem to have come at the right time. The former Monaco man was released by PSG as a youngster after a few months there, and perhaps the lure of proving that those who overlooked him as an attacker wrong would also play a part in his decision.

Ancelotti’s side would be stronger with either player in the team, but on reflection perhaps Evra is the better option despite Cole’s familiarity with Ancelotti and willingness to once again play for the Italian tactician. The Frenchman enjoyed some of the best years of his career in the Principality; a return to France where he would become a big part of PSG’s ambitious project would make sense for both parties.

The capital club have recently come in for criticism for moving away from a spine of domestic-based talent, the return of Evra would help silence those claims.

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