Les Parisiens are closing in on the signature of one of the world's finest defenders in their attempt to to join the continent's elite and most dominant clubs
Dreams, even the wildest ones, can become reality. Even in France, even in Ligue 1. Thiago Silva, most probably the best defender in the world at present, will likely play for Paris Saint-Germain next season. Everything should be finalised on Wednesday, following a whirlwind tour of the French capital.
While Les Bleus underwhelmed somewhat in their opening performance against England, PSG's possible transfer coup offers a timely reminder to the football-adoring public that the game in France is rising once more, spearheaded by the cash-injected club.
A transfer for €45 million would make him the most expensive player in the history of French football. Who would have thought a few months ago that a player of this calibre would ever tread the turf of the French top flight? No one.
Imagine how the fans in Troyes or Reims, promoted to Ligue 1 for the coming season, will feel in a few weeks when they see the Brazilian marking their attackers!
The Parisian club are about to secure a massive deal, both in sporting and media terms. To take a player of the stature of Thiago Silva from AC Milan, who Manchester City and Barcelona were also chasing, is a triumph in itself.
This shows two things: firstly, that money really does equal happiness. PSG are not of the standing of Milan, and even if the club has enjoyed a steady rise since the arrival of their Qatari billionaire owners, this is the moment in which their fortunes has really made the difference.
The second is that, following the arrival of Javier Pastore at about the same stage last year, PSG really have entered another dimension. Two years ago, the club recruited Christophe Jallet from Lorient to strengthen their defence. Last year, it was Diego Lugano from Fenerbahce. This year, it will be Thiago Silva. 'Spectacular' does not do this change justice.
Looking at it from another perspective, imagine Thiago Silva facing certain players in Ligue 1. One doubts whether he will be familiar with many of his future adversaries. Whereas with Milan he starred at San Siro, which holds 90,000 fans, next season he will run out at Ajaccio, where the average gate is only 5,000.
The Brazilian will go in part for the money and the huge salary on offer in Paris. But there is also a very interesting sporting project on offer, because with such financial power, PSG could soon rival Europe's most prestigious clubs. It is also a beautiful city and a fresh challenge.
At 27, the former Fluminense player has matured with Milan to become one of the best defenders in the world. With above average technique for a centre-back, considerable physicality in the tackle, a scientific understanding of positioning and a powerful running stride, he boasts the ideal attributes of the modern defender.
With 28 caps, he has also become a mainstay of the Brazil team only two years before they host the World Cup in 2014.
Carlo Ancelotti, the Italian coach of PSG, has made it his priority to strengthen the club's defensive group (composed currently of Lugano, Mamadou Sakho, Alex, Zoumana Camara and Milan Bisevac) which has been deemed too weak by the Alpine technician.
|PSG'S STAR BUYS
|Javier Pastore (Palermo)
Jeremy Menez (Roma)
Thiago Motta (Inter)
Diego Lugano (Fenerbahce)
Blaise Matuidi (Saint-Etienne)
Kevin Gameiro (Lorient)
Mohamed Sissoko (Juventus)
Thiago Silva is undoubtedly much too strong for Ligue 1 and I will bet that we will be able to count on the fingers of one hand the number of times he is beaten in one-on-one situations this coming season. It will be in the Champions League in which he will be especially required, where the standard is much more demanding than in l’Hexagone.
He will be accompanied in Paris by Ezequiel Lavezzi, the Napoli striker who will be the second signing of the club's summer spree at a price of nearly €30m. The Argentine will join a side that will soon look like a real dream team: Thiago Silva, Thiago Motta, Pastore, Jeremy Menez, Nene and Lavezzi will already be there, without forgetting the probable arrival of a great striker such as Gonzalo Higuain, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Carlos Tevez or Alexandre Pato. Paris still dreams of Kaka and Dani Alves, too!
Next season, PSG will be a little French equivalent of the Harlem Globetrotters, the legendary American basketball team; showmen steeped in talent, almost invincible, and everyone will scramble to watch.
We will press into all the Ligue 1 stadiums to see the PSG stars. We would pay dearly to see the team get beaten and sometimes ridicule their attackers or defenders. But we will also applaud their talent and break into raptures when dazzled by their football and their domination.
PSG are taking fantastic steps for French football, even if they are going to crush the competition in the form of the country's other clubs. For a league that has always struggled to sell broadcasting rights abroad, their growth is a blessing. Negotiating on behalf of a league that includes some of the best players in the world is obviously an easier proposition. Everyone (the clubs and the league itself) will benefit from these rights, which will inevitably increase.
The last time France had a player the calibre of Thiago Silva in Le Championnat was perhaps Ronaldinho in the early 2000s, when he played with PSG before joining Barcelona. Otherwise, we must go back to the late 1980s and early 1990s to Olympique de Marseille, where Bernard Tapie recruited Enzo Francescoli, Dragan Stojkovic, Jean-Pierre Papin, Abedi Pele, Chris Waddle, Carlos Mozer and Rudi Voller, who belonged amongst the world's elite in their respective positions.
This coincided with the virtual domination of Marseille on the European stage. The current PSG side are heading down the same path.
Julien Laurens is a French football journalist who is based in London and works for a number of publications including Le Parisien, RTL and Infosport.