Sitting seventh with just two wins from their opening four games under new manager Unai Emery, Paris Saint-Germain have got off to a woeful start to their Ligue 1 title defence this year.
A 3-1 defeat at the hands of their nearest league rivals, Monaco, before the international break and a 1-1 draw with Saint Etienne has signalled a poor start for the reigning French champions.
After losing two of their most influential players in Zlatan Ibrahimović and David Luiz this summer, reigning league champions failed to adequately replace them with the signings of Jese Rodriguez from Real Madrid, Grzegorz Krychowiak from Europa League champions Sevilla, Hatem Ben Arfa from Nice; and Thomas Meunier from Club Brugge.
Emery wasn’t helped by the sale of David Luiz, a departure he has since admitted he didn’t want: “I wanted [David Luiz], like all of the other big-name players, to stay here.
He called me after the Monaco match and then spoke with the club to request their permission. He told me ‘coach, I have a good offer, and I think that it is best if I leave.’”
The loss of Luiz to Champions League rivals Chelsea for a £20 million fee can only hurt the Parisians who now must rely on an ageing Thiago Silva; Marquinhos; and youngster Presnell Kimpembe at centre-half until at least January.
Despite Luiz’s perceived flaws that many media figures are quick to shout about, he had formed a formidable partnership with fellow Brazilian, conceding just 19 goals last season as they strolled to the Ligue 1 title.
The defeat to Monaco and the draw with Saint Etienne highlighted the significance of the Silva-Luiz partnership, with at least one of the two missing for either game.
It looks like it could be a leaky season for a side that lost their main goal threat from the previous three seasons in the imperious Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
The departure of Ibrahimovic, and subsequent failure to replace him and choosing to rely on Edison Cavani, has created a massive (goal scoring) gap in Emery’s squad.
Scoring 113 in 122 games in his three seasons in the city of love, Ibrahimovic would have been a hard man to replace for any incoming striker.
It looks as if it could be a year in transition for a side that look to adapt to Emery’s distinct tactical and hard working philosophy. Whether or not Nasser Al Khelaifi, the club’s owner, will allow for a year of evolution, if it fails to bring trophies, is an entirely different subject.