Where does Mauro Icardi fit in at PSG?
Background image: Валерий Дед, CC BY 3.0
After a prolonged period of drama, Mauro Icardi finally found a club. Paris Saint-Germain have signed the Argentinean on a season-long loan deal with an option to buy for a reported £63m fee on deadline day.
Inter manager Antonio Conte made it clear that Icardi's existence was null in the Italian capital. The Serie A side signed struggling Manchester United man Romelu Lukaku and gave him the #9 shirt. Blame anyone, but Icardi's relationship with the club became toxic. He had to move on...
This transfer offers Icardi a new lease of life and lets him start a fresh chapter in a new country. Currently, the Parisians are without their attacking starlets Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe for at least a month from now due to injury. Neymar is back domestically, but is suspended for two more UEFA Champions League games - following his rant on social media after the horror show against Manchester United in the Round of 16 game last season. This could be Icardi's opportunity and time to shine.
This loan deal makes sense for PSG, too. Neymar wanted to return to Spain this summer after just two years in France following a record-breaking transfer to Paris. This kind of attitude is unhealthy for a progressive club and so it seems logical to move him on as quickly as possible. The 27-year-old Brazil international is unhappy, so what's the point in keeping him around? When you factor in that at aged 32, Cavani isn't getting any younger either. Who better than Icardi, who's still improving? Don't forget that Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting is on the books, though he's simply not good enough, particularly in the big-games. What's astute about signing the Argentine Icardi on loan is that there is no obligation to acquire him permanently. If it doesn't work out, he'll head back to Inter when the short-term deal expires.
If the move does work out, though, Thomas Tuchel will be hailed a genius. Despite recent struggles, you cannot deny that Icardi has a voracious appetite for goals. In his time with the Nerazzurri, he reached double figures for league strikes in six of seven seasons played. The Argentine is quick, strong, prolific and an opportunistic forward who can create space in the box. His nature and spontaneity inside the penalty area is an underrated commodity. Given ample chance, he will guarantee goals.
PSG play a possession-based football with heavy involvement in the opposition half. Full-backs Juan Bernat and Thomas Meunier push high and overlap, while their wingers cut in to project central superiority along with the striker. Until now, Tuchel used Cavani as a striker who hugs the box and comes deep to defend and become a passing option in the build-up. We saw a similar approach against Real Madrid in the Champions League. For their first goal, Icardi dropped to collect the ball, drawing defenders out of space. This created room for Angel di Maria to fire into the box whilst Icardi assisted the assister due to his movement and on-ball quality.
If there is a weakness, it's the fact that Icardi isn't someone who will track back and do the dirty work. That's where Cavani does hold the upper hand, though in time, the Argentine could learn to do his bit for the team ad help out on the defensive side of the football. The fact that Idrissa Gueye was signed from Everton does help, mind, as he can do the job of two men due to his tenacity, work-rate and sheer hunger to win.
Another potential stumbling block is ego. That PSG dressing room is already coping with Neymar's off-field antics. Throwing Icardi's wife, Wanda Nara, into the mix, could produce fireworks. Again, it falls back on manager Tuchel to handle the responsibility and dressing room drama. He will need assistance from Sporting Director Leonardo to ensure that nothing goes wrong.
All being well and drama being avoided, Icardi does have the potential to be a long-term solution, and a move to Paris presents the opportunity of a lifetime for Icardi to redeem himself. PSG needs the striker, Tuchel can easily find a place in the starting line-up for the player. When given the chance, Icardi has to grasp them with both hands. Who knows, if this move works out, there's nobody stopping PSG from potentially causing mayhem in Europe...