It was total blur. A collective porridge that PSG has taken the bad habit of serving too often this season. The Parisian midfield did not look like much last Sunday in Lyon. The repositionings attempted by Mauricio Pochettino did not change anything, even if the replacement of Marco Verratti in sentry gave more body to the Parisian environment. But the light came from elsewhere. Of two kids who, in the space of 20 minutes, showed much more than the stars present so far on the ground. Edouard Michut and Xavi Simons lit up a Parisian game that really needed it.
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The phenomenon has not gone unnoticed. Above all, it confirmed a trend. Michut and Simons had already been able to exploit a little playing time to stand out in the Coupe de France, against Entente Feignies-Aulnoy then Vannes. But Lyon in Ligue 1 is another level. That Pochettino called on them to save a compromised situation, while OL were leading in the score, was not trivial even if the Argentinian lacked solutions on his bench. It was a life-size test. The two young Parisian shoots passed it successfully, thus proving that they aspire to better than a role of reservist of the reservists.
Merit playing time
Until now, it was more a question of giving them minutes to convince them to link their future to the club of the capital. Especially for Simons, whose contract expires next June. But the level displayed against Lyon suggests that the Dutchman and Michut no longer only embody the future of PSG, but also its present. « They are ready to play in Ligue 1« , assured Marco Verratti in Lyon. « Young people must have playing time, because they perform well, summarized Mathieu Bodmer, consultant on Prime Video, at the microphone of RMC. It’s not to make them happy. They bring something. Pochettino knows that his adventure will end at PSG. You might as well die with your convictions. What can happen to him?«
Pochettino doesn’t necessarily have much to lose. But above all, the Parisian coach certainly has everything to gain by relying more on Michut and Simons. So far, the Argentinian had sided with the depth of his squad to justify their lack of playing time in the first team. « We have 35 professional players, so it’s difficult for young people to find their place“, he explained at the end of September. Faced with the crucial deadlines awaiting his team and his inability to set up a coherent collective so far, Pochettino has every reason to review his position.
Beneficial profiles for PSG
The observation of recent weeks is that PSG plays better with Michut and Simons. Beyond his natural elegance and his technical qualities clearly above average, the Frenchman brings exactly what is lacking in the Parisian midfield. A high volume of races, constant aggressiveness in the duels and, above all, forward play. Through passes that break the lines, his propensity to solicit one-twos and his projections towards the surface, Michut brings this diversity which is sorely lacking in the Parisian collective.
Edouard Michut / Lyon – PSG
Credit: Getty Images
Simons too. The former resident of La Masia has a fairly impressive tactical culture for a player of his age. To the point where it is difficult to determine his favorite position as he has shown qualities to be efficient on several registers. Whatever area of the pitch he is playing in, he feels the game and knows how to make those around him play, with undeniable skill in one-touch play. His frail appearance is a decoy. In the Coupe de France as in Lyon, the Dutchman showed a lot of solidity in the duels. Especially because he shows great intelligence in placement and anticipation when it comes to playing them.
A favorable context
Michut and Simons each have the profile to improve the Parisian collective. They also have the opportunity. Idrissa Gueye left for the CAN, PSG finds itself deprived of its most successful midfielder this season with Marco Verratti. Ander Herrera, Leandro Paredes and Georginio Wijnaldum confirmed their limits against Lyon. Michut, he is on the upward slope and seems to develop a very interesting bond with Verratti on the ground. Pochettino has every reason to rely on this connection to improve a sector that has never given satisfaction this season.
Simons is in a more delicate competitive situation in attack, the sector where Pochettino used him in the Cup and against Lyon, even if the Dutchman can evolve in a role of torchbearer. But the situations of Neymar, injured, Leo Messi and Angel Di Maria, affected by the Covid-19 at the start of the year, offered him an opportunity which he did not hesitate to seize, like Michut between. It will be up to Pochettino to give them another on Saturday against Brest. Maybe even start them for the first time in Ligue 1. Because they deserve it. But above all because PSG really needs it.
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