Top European clubs have a difficult balancing act to maintain. You can always go and buy another top player, but you also want to develop youth and create your own stars.
Paris Saint-Germain haven't always got this juggling act right. Especially when you look at what happened to Kingsley Coman just a few years ago. He hadn't even played a full 90 minutes before he high-tailed it and ran to Juventus on a free.
Now, he is one of the most exciting wingers in world football and PSG fans must look at him as being the one that got away.
There is danger of it happening again. Jean-Christophe Bahebeck has bounced about from club-to-club on loan, never finding his feet at any of them, but never gaining the trust of any of his first-team coaches. Jean-Kevin Augustin may have thought he had done enough to secure more minutes this campaign, but then they spent €25 million on Jese Rodriguez from Real Madrid.
One player that has shown a way from the youth system to the first-team is Adrien Rabiot, but not without his own pangs of doubt over his future. During the summer, PSG took the opportunity to sign right-back Thomas Meunier from Club Brugge. The Belgian brought in to provide cover for Serge Aurier after the departure of Gregory van der Wiel.
One player that may have been a little disappointed to see his arrival is 18-year-old youngster Alec Georgen. After impressing for the club's Under-19 side on their way to the final of the UEFA Youth League. Augustin and Odsonne Edouard were the stand outs, but the defender showed that he has a bright future bombing down the PSG flanks.
In Unai Emery‘s early days, both Serge Aurier and Layvin Kurzawa were free to bomb forward and add another dimension to the attack. They were like wingers rather than full-backs and that's exactly how Georgen plays. He got a chance in the summer, playing as part of the International Champions Cup. As well as showing he can add that same attacking presence, he gave everyone a glimpse at his superb right-foot.
When you have players like Edinson Cavani playing through the middle, service is key. Against Inter Milan, he delivered a lovely right-footed cross for Serge Aurier and in the recent UEFA Youth League fixture with Arsenal he showed on multiple occasions his eagerness to provide early crosses into the box.
His vision is excellent. Playing balls down the line to on-running forwards. Early crosses, low fast drilled balls across the box or searching cross-field passes, he has it all. The problem the young defender has, and it’s not his fault, is a lack of experience defending.
Even in Ligue 1, French defences find it hard when they are turned around. They feel a lot more comfortable with teams holding possession in front of them and that’s no different in the youth leagues. On Wednesday, before the senior team beat Ludogorets 3-1 in the UEFA Champions League, the youngsters destroyed the Bulgarian side 8-1. Not offering up the Parisians much of defensive challenge.
His coach, Francois Rodriguez, told the press that that is one of the areas the young defender still has to improve.
“I keep telling him, his quality crosses are not enough for the moment. Like, in one-on-one situations, he can do even better.”
You can tell that a lot is thought of the youngster. At the end of February this year, Mino Raiola added Georgen to his stable of clients. So it was with some surprise this summer when the right-back decided to stay in Paris for this season.
Unlike forwards, defenders, especially at a club like PSG, can’t quite learn on the job. There will be Coupe de France and Coupe de la Ligue fixtures to gain experience, but when it comes to the bigger matches, the challenge that Ligue 1 will bring, he will need to experience.
There was nearly a loan move to Le Havre this summer, that would have been perfect, but the kid that Rabiot calls “Aleczinho” decided to stay in the French capital.
“He is a very intelligent player, the way he plays and his anticipation during matches,“ said the France youth international. “I have always called him that because he is like a Brazilian defender.”
In his youth he played as a striker and you can see that instinct in his game. It has made Georgen versatile, but also very comfortable pushing into the final third. Rabiot also likens him to his veteran teammate Maxwell, huge praise indeed.
The addition of Meunier this summer has kept the youngster down the pecking order, but there is a huge future ahead for the 18-year-old. Aurier’s position at the club was bright, but with his police indiscretions and the unknown nature of what he will do next, Georgen might not be that far away from a place in the first-team squad.
He may still need a loan move before he’s ready, but rest assured, Georgen has what it takes and is the future of PSG’s defence.