While players like Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Edinson Cavani have been big reasons as to why Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) are the Ligue 1 leaders on 24 points after 10 league games, two ahead of AS Monaco, their play and contributions are not the only reason why PSG are atop the league standings.
Others will argue that while the stars are doing what they are paid to do, that credit for how PSG are currently playing needs to rest with unsung heroes like Blaise Matuidi, Salvatore Sirigu, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Maxwell, whose play has been consistent since last season. Each of those viewpoints are accurate and have merit, but they do not explain why PSG have played more like a team instead of a collection of quality players trying to play like a team.
The reason that PSG are finally beginning to resemble an actual team is because their young players have injected some enthusiasm, tactical flexibility, solidity and quality contributions. The young players are Marquinhos, Adrien Rabiot, Lucas Moura, Lucas Digne and Marco Verratti.
Marquinhos, who is only 19-years old, came over during the summer from AS Roma in a deal worth €35 million. He clearly needed time to settle into his new environment and team given that there is little to no room for Laurent Blanc to ease him as a central defender. Now Marquinhos has established himself as a starter alongside either fellow Brazilians Alex or the injured Thiago Silva, and his presence and play has done a lot to make PSG much more solid defensively down the middle, something that was missing earlier this season.
Digne has done the same for the left side of the defense. The 20-year old came over during the summer from French club LOSC Lille for a fee of around €15 million. Like Marquinhos, Digne did not see much action right away as Blanc wanted to make sure he was settled in before giving making him a regular. Digne has settled in and his play on the left side has continued to solidify a PSG defense that has gotten better.
While Moura and Verratti came last season, both have matured in their play this season. Moura, who has split team as the right-sided winger/attack midfielder with Lavezzi, has proven that whether he starts or comes on as a substitute, he does very good job of serving as the link from midfield to attack. He has played well with Ibrahimovic and Cavani. As for Verratti, his play continues to shine as the midfield maestro, and PSG has improved its attacking play as he grows in confidence.
Finally, the 18-year old Rabiot has given the midfield that box-to-box threat which was needed. This was seen in Le Classique when he came on after Thiago Motta and gave the midfield much-needed balance in helping PSG come back to win 2-1. It is his ability to give the midfield balance, along with the play of the other young guns, that has contributed to PSG’s overall improvement as of late.