PSG may be wealthy but they've always been sitting on another gold mine

Ahead of their Champions League clash with Man City, we look at the playing talent produced by the Paris region

BY Raf Diallo 13:54 Wednesday 6 April 2016, 13:54 6 Apr 2016

PSG's Zlatan Ibrahimovic, right, and PSG's Adrien Rabiot, left, who both scored a goal, celebrate after the round of sixteen second leg Champions League soccer match between Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain at Stamford Bridge stadium in London, Wednesday, March 9, 2016. PSG won the match with a 2-1 score (4-2 on aggregate).(AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

When Manchester City take on Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League quarter-finals tomorrow night, the French side will be distinct favourites.

At least City are going into the first leg on the back of a facile 4-0 win over Bournemouth which also featured the return of Kevin De Bruyne who linked up well with fellow attacking midfielder David Silva.

PSG on the other hand nearly always enjoy a facile win in Ligue 1 these days and are coming off the back of dumping Chelsea out of Europe in the previous round's action.

Their wealth received from the Qatar Sports Investment group is the main reason for the huge gap between PSG and the rest in France, symbolised by the enormous 25 point gap which stands between them and second-placed Monaco this season.

But they are also sitting on a gold mine of a different sort which they have not always taken first pick from effectively.

PSG have the advantage of being practically in a one-club city. And not any old city, but one of Europe's largest metropolitan centres.

If you take the city and particularly the sprawling suburbs and towns around Paris, eight of the latest France squad were born and grew up in the region including the likes of Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial and this year's Premier League midfield sensation N'Golo Kante.

Marseille's Lassana Diarra, front, challenges for the ball with Paris Saint Germain's Adrien Rabiot, during the League One soccer match between Marseille and Paris Saint-Germain, at the Velodrome Stadium, in Marseille, southern France, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)

Given the limits on the number of players one club can naturally recruit, talent will always slip through the net. But that trio all ended up starting their careers at Le Havre, Lyon (after some time at Thierry Henry and Patrice Evra's first club CO Les Ulis) and US Boulogne.

They aren't the only Parisians or suburban natives to not make it onto PSG's radar in a meaningful way as former Chelsea and Arsenal midfielder Lassana Diarra ended up at a range of different Parisian clubs - but not PSG - before winding up at the highly thought of academy of Le Havre on the shores of the English Channel. 

Leicester's Riyad Mahrez, who now plays internationally for Algeria, is another player from Paris' outskirts, having started out life in the commune of Sarcelles. Like Kante, PSG are far from the only club to have failed to notice him. Inter Milan midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia is another from the wider region around Paris.

The aforementioned Evra did spend a short spell in the PSG academy where he was converted into a winger before being released in 1998.

That pattern is something the club have engaged in. Liverpool centre-back Mamadou Sakho may catch the eye for his erratic performances, but until he left for Anfield in 2013, the 26-year-old was a hometown symbol and captain of his home city club at a young age.

France's Kingsley Coman runs with the ball during his international friendly soccer match between France and Russia in Saint Denis, north of Paris, France, Tuesday, March 29, 2016. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

He joined at the age of 12, similarly to Bayern Munich's highly-rated teenage winger Kingsley Coman who joined the club aged 8 and progressed all the way to the first team where opportunities were scarce.

Only first-team midfielder Adrien Rabiot and a handful of fringe players provide the home city feel to PSG at present and Rabiot was an interesting case as excellently portrayed in The Guardian.

Having joined the club in his mid-teens after spending time at a number of academies including Man City's there has always been a slight threat that the 21-year-old, who scored against Chelsea, could leave if game-time is not guaranteed.

He has made 32 appearances in all competitions this season which would appear satisfactory. But on a symbolic level, the club should look to build around players like him in the future.

If they look across at Barcelona, which is the club the nouveau-riche like PSG and City look to as the clubs they want to become, the Catalans have a philosophy which prizes building it through a core of home-produced players. Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid are two of Europe's current strong clubs who have enjoyed success while maintaining a crop of academy-produced talent.

But for PSG, they are sitting on a veritable gold mine given the size of a city where they have no real local rival at the elite level and even if they intend to continue spending heavily on global stars, they can balance the books and benefit from a high level of talent by making full use of the playing resources springing up around them. 


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