PARIS: Paris Saint-Germain coach Thomas Tuchel has admitted that signing a top-class midfielder remains “a priority” for the French giants after their weaknesses were exposed in another below-par performance in the Champions League.
PSG snatched a 2-2 draw at home against Napoli in midweek thanks to Angel di Maria’s injury-time goal, but before that they were outmuscled in the centre of the pitch.
Tuchel’s team also disappointed in a 3-2 defeat at Liverpool last month, and their hopes of reaching the knockout rounds are in the balance.
Those games have exposed a lack of strength in depth in midfield, with PSG missing out on targets such as Fabinho and Axel Witsel in the recent past — that duo ended up joining Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund respectively.
At times this season, Brazilian defender Marquinhos been used in midfield, where PSG’s only specialists are Adrien Rabiot and Marco Verratti.
But PSG have been hamstrung by UEFA’s Financial Fair Play regulations ever since spending more than 400 million euros ($457m) on Neymar and Kylian Mbappe last year.
“Yes it is a priority. It was a priority and it still is because it is dangerous to always use Adri and Marco,” said Tuchel on Saturday.
“It is too much at this level. We need a third top-level player to be able to play a 4-3-3.
“You can only play what you have. I am still convinced Marquinhos can play a big, big role for us.”
Speaking ahead of Sunday’s game away to bitter rivals Marseille, Tuchel added: “We are still building, we are still in progress, still on our way up. I truly believe that, I can see a lot of good things in our game.”
– ‘Le Clasico’ –
In contrast to their difficulties in Europe, PSG are utterly dominant in France.
The reigning champions have established a new French record by winning their opening 10 Ligue 1 games this season and are hoping to extend that further when they go to the Velodrome.
Marseille come into the game on the back of a 3-1 defeat against Lazio in the Europa League, hardly ideal preparation for the biggest match in French football.
“For me it’s not so important what Marseille played so far because tomorrow will be different for them,” said Tuchel.
“We have a lot of respect for the quality they have. They are used to playing big matches. They have a lot of individual quality and with their supporters in that kind of stadium, anything can happen.”
There will be a crowd of over 60,000 at the Velodrome for the fixture, usually dubbed ‘Le Clasico’ in French in a nod to the Spanish game between Real Madrid and Barcelona, which will also be played on Sunday.
“Games like this are like an overload of emotions. We need to be very calm and focus on our qualities and objectives,” added Tuchel, who will be without injured captain Thiago Silva.
“We have a long, long series of victories and a big, big chance to make it 11, and to make it 11 in Marseille is one of the biggest challenges you can have in France.” —AFP