This is a huge blow for the Parisians, whose manager is desperate for a midfielder. With the potency of Neymar and Kylian Mbappé in attack, PSG needed someone of comparable skill and potential in the middle of the park to partner Marco Verratti; that was intended to be De Jong, but no more.
So what do PSG do? Well, they have to look elsewhere for their future midfield supremo. And as always we here at Squawka have looked at their available options and come up with some suggestions. The dream, realistic and wildcard midfield signings for PSG.
Maurizio Sarri’s Napoli were a sensational team to watch. Their midfield was particularly delightful as it was so wondrously harmonious. You had Jorginho doing all the passing, Marek Hamsik wrecking opponents with late runs and dynamic play in the box. And the energetic counterweight to that? Allan.
Allan is 28. Not exactly a youngster like De Jong, but he is a player of immense and proven quality. Brought to Italy by the Pozzo family’s Udinese scouting network, he has developed into a duel machine. No midfielder won more tackles in Serie A in 2017/18 (107). He’s nowhere near the creative player than De Jong is, but his defensive prowess would allow PSG’s other midfielders more freedom to create. But Napoli are notoriously hard-nosed negotiators and could end up demanding a ludicrous fee on par with De Jong’s for a player who won’t offer anything like the longevity of the Dutchman.
Squawka Suggests: Ruben Neves
Wolves’ sensational midfielder is something of a genius-in-the-making. He’s not quite as polished as De Jong but isn’t far off. A rugged battler, his experience in the Premier League has given him a hard edge that could make him kindred spirits with Marco Verratti.
Rúben Neves has now scored 13 goals in his senior career; 11 of them have been from outside of the box.
Another Rúben Rocket. 🚀 pic.twitter.com/UZAPhTSV1A
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) January 7, 2019
Neves would bring a skill-set much close to De Jong’s. He’s not quite as graceful, sure, but his passing ability cannot be denied and his ability to control games is there to be developed. His signing would allow PSG to field “two Verratti’s” which would provide the likes of Neymar and Kylian Mbappé with a great platform. He wouldn’t be cheap and PSG would have to contend with Jorge Mendes but he’d be worth it.
Realistic: Leandro Paredes
Looking more realistically, who could PSG actually get? And could they get someone now? Because that midfield is looking light (Marquinhos played there, for goodness’ sake!) right now? Well, enter Leandro Paredes. The Argentine pass-master had been linked with Chelsea, but PSG could offer him a guaranteed starting role.
Paredes isn’t the defensive power Thiago Motta was but would bring the same sense of pass-happy serenity that the Italian international brought to PSG for many years. And he’d cost about €45m and be available for a transfer right now, which means he could be used for PSG’s Champions League campaign, and that’s all that matters to the Parisian club.
Squawka Suggests: Idrissa Gueye
Paredes would be all well and good but whilst PSG could definitely use a passing pivot, they already have one of those in Marco Verratti. Given they missed out on a game-changing talent in De Jong, what PSG really need is defensive balance. Someone to eat up ground and opponents then distribute the ball to their many attackers.
No player has won more tackles in the Premier League this season than Idrissa Gueye (40).
He misses out through injury today. pic.twitter.com/IUDABFDsTE
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) December 15, 2018
Idrissa Gueye is that man. A ferocious defensive presence. No one has won more tackles in the Premier League than Gueye (83) this season. He would be the perfect clean-up specialist, allowing the likes of Verratti to focus on passing while Julian Draxler, Neymar and Kylian Mbappé can attack with almost reckless abandon. And at £22m he’d be easily affordable.
Wildcard: Renato Sanches
When you think about De Jong’s meteoric rise to midfield messiah status, it came in the wake of the previous incumbent crashing and burning. Renato Sanches was a breakout star at Euro 2016 and earned an enormous move to Bayern Munich but his career has been a mishmash of nonsense and failed potential since.
He’s looked sharper this season, and should PSG sign him (he’s still only 21!) they would have possibly the only other young midfielder who could rise to heights as tall as De Jong. The problem here is Sanches already at an elite European side in Bayern Munich, and unlike La Liga, the Bundesliga doesn’t have release clauses that PSG can use to bypass the clubs. So probably a wildcard.
Squawka Suggests: Adrien Rabiot
Here’s the wildest of wildcards for PSG: stop wasting money on new signings (especially given you need new full-backs) when you have a potentially world-class midfielder already on your books! Yes, Adrien Rabiot has been a problem child in Paris, but only to the club’s owner; all his team-mates and even his coach are quite fond of him and would like him to be recalled from the reserves.
If PSG were to do that, they would obviously have to pay him an awful lot of money in terms of a new deal, but they would get a true home-grown star. Raised from within their youth system. Rabiot would, alongside Presnel Kimpembe, represent a beacon for all the other talented youngsters who want to believe that they can make it through PSG’s academy to the first-team. But given the PSG owners record of treating workers in their other businesses, it’s unlikely that they will deal with Rabiot fairly, so he’s probably not going to renew.