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Mbappe up front, Neymar as No.10, Hakimi at wing-back - How will PSG play in 2021-22?

09:00 BST 16/07/2021
Neymar Kylian Mbappe Achraf Hakimi Paris Saint-Germain Ligue 1 GFX
PSG are enjoying an impressive transfer campaign that has seen them seal four major deals already, meaning they now have plenty of tactical options

Paris Saint-Germain have conducted arguably the most impressive transfer business of the summer so far.

On Wednesday, the Champions League semi-finalists enhanced an already impressive campaign as Gianluigi Donnarumma was officially added to their ranks.

Italy’s Euro 2020 hero – the former AC Milan goalkeeper was named as Player of the Tournament and also stopped two penalties in their shootout win over England – joins an already impressive cast of players to arrive at the Parc des Princes side.

Georginio Wijnaldum was first to arrive on a free transfer after leaving Liverpool, while Spain and Real Madrid legend Sergio Ramos is another impressive no-fee addition.

Indeed, the only player that PSG have paid hard cash for is former Inter wing-back Achraf Hakimi, who, at €60 million before bonuses, is likely to prove one of the most expensive signings of 2021.

And it is likely to be Hakimi’s arrival that offers PSG head coach Mauricio Pochettino the flexibility he craves as he attempts to build a team capable of winning the Champions League – and also persuading Kylian Mbappe, out of contract next summer, to commit his medium-term future to his hometown side.

The Moroccan's presence opens up a variety of options for the Parisians, which Goal explores below...

4-2-3-1

Pochettino is known as a coach who favours a 4-2-3-1 formation and, given the nature of his club's summer business, this is a system that should suit the players now at his disposal.

Assuming that Mbappe remains at the club in spite of interest from Real Madrid, the France international could feature either off the left or through the centre as a No.9.

However, it seems most likely that will be deployed out wide, with Mauro Icardi selected as a more orthodox centre-forward.

PSG’s attack is bristling with quality in this setup, with Neymar in the No.10 role and Argentina's Copa America hero Angel Di Maria on the right.

Meanwhile, Wijnaldum slots into the midfield alongside Italy ace Marco Verratti, while Sergio Ramos takes up a station beside Marquinhos in defence.

Hakimi features on the right of the new-look rearguard, with long-term injury victim Juan Bernat returning on the left.

Donnarumma must battle with Keylor Navas for the right to start in goal...

3-4-3

PSG's most probable formation next season would also signify the most dramatic change in approach, as it would involve Pochettino switching to a three-man backline.

This means that Sergio Ramos will be incorporated in the heart of the defence, while Hakimi’s attacking qualities can be exploited on the right-hand side of the pitch.

Bernat would again be the likely option on the left, although it may take him some weeks to establish himself in such a role after a year on the sidelines. 

While Wijnaldum and Verratti are the likely central combination, there would be an alteration in attack, with Mbappe used as a centre forward flanked by Neymar and Di Maria.

In this set up, the lack of defensive work done by Mbappe would be less of an issue given he would be playing up front, while Pochettino would doubtless hope that Bernat’s impressive defensive coverage would make up for Neymar’s reluctance to track back.

4-3-3

If Pochettino wants a little more presence in the centre of the field, PSG can easily shuffle into a 4-3-3 formation.

This closely follows the line-up used in the 4-2-3-1, but, in this instance, Mbappe plays through the centre with Neymar on the left.

The additional body in the centre of the field is likely to be provided by the busy Idrissa Gueye, although Ander Herrera and Leandro Paredes are other significant contenders.

Julian Draxler could also feature in a slightly more forward-thinking version of this system.

4-2-2-2

PSG often played a very attack-minded 4-2-2-2 formation last season and if they were to use the formation again, it would again see Mbappe paired with Icardi at the forefront of the attack.

Di Maria and Neymar would provide the width, with Wijnaldum and Verratti the likeliest combination in the middle of the park.

Again, though, Pochettino would have plenty of alternatives. His squad is now brimming with options all over the pitch.

This really has been an impressive summer of recruitment by PSG and it's no surprise that all of their European rivals are now casting envious eyes in the direction of the Parc des Princes.