Lee Davey assesses the risks that Layvin Kurzawa has taken with the summer move from Monaco to PSG and how it might affect his chances of playing a part at EURO 2016.
Paris Saint-Germain’s acquisition of AS Monaco Left-back Layvin Kurzawa in August was viewed as an excellent piece of business for the capital club, not only in capturing one of France’s rising stars of the future, but also potentially weakening one of their main domestic rivals for the Ligue 1 title in the process.
Laurent Blanc was forced to dip into the transfer market to strengthen the champions’ defensive options when want-away second choice left-back Lucas Digne joined Rudi Garcia’s AS Roma on a season-long loan deal.
Digne had grown tired of his limited chances at PSG due in part to the excellent form of the ever reliable Maxwell but in truth, he failed to take his chances when presented with the opportunity.
As one young Frenchman departed, another was to arrive in the form of Kurzawa; the latter arguably the more accomplished defender at this stage of their careers and both are battling it out with the evergreen Patrice Evra for a starting birth at next summer’s European Championships.
Not only was this a purchase made with the future in mind, it was a signing that realistically threatened the position of Maxwell in the team. This was not so much the impression when Lucas Digne signed from Lille in 2013.
Kurzawa’s five years in the Principality enabled him to establish himself as one of France’s defensive hopes for the future as well has accumulating 75 professional appearances including his role in helping to lead AS Monaco to last season’s Champions League Quarter Finals.
His fine form earned him a call up to Didier Deschamps’ French national squad and after making his debut in November 2014 in a friendly against Albania, the left-back gave Deschamps plenty of food for thought ahead of next summer’s championships.
So with Kurzawa seemingly looking as an odds-on favourite to be named in Deschamps’ squad next summer, and Maxwell still as consistent as ever, was Kurzawa’s transfer to the champions the right move at the wrong time?
Maxwell is still Laurent Blanc’s first choice, something that has been confirmed by the calibre of games the Brazilian is chosen to start. The question is whether this scenario will be a hindrance to Kurzawa’s chances of playing or even making the France squad at Euro 2016?
It could be argued that Kurzawa’s chances would be far greater playing regularly at Monaco rather than playing second-fiddle to Maxwell although it remains to be seen how many games Blanc will give his new signing.
The early indications are that Kurzawa will get a run in the side but what he may struggle with is the opportunity to put a run of two, three or even four games together simultaneously. Without a run of games, it may be difficult for the former Monaco youth graduate to stamp his authority on the side and show PSG and his national team his best form.
Laurent Blanc has showed signs early on in the season that he is happy to rotate his squad and that should enable Kurzawa to get more playing time than compatriot Lucas Digne was afforded last term; with Digne amassing only 24 appearnces in the rouge et bleu in 2014/15.
Kurzawa does face a challenging season and in truth has made an unsatisfactory start to his PSG career with some disappointing performances so far, considering the standards he has set himself.
The left-back was partly at fault for the goal PSG conceded at Reims in week six when an attempted back heel in the PSG penalty area went horribly wrong leading to Reims’ opener.
Against Nantes at the weekend, he was largely anonymous, although not alone in that criticism. The difference being that he has a huge price tag to fulfil and an unforgiving Parisian support to win over- and quickly.
It is important to realise that its early days in Kurzawa’s PSG career but the new man must start to find some of the form that prompted Blanc to spend big.
Whilst he does not boast the experience and the ability to read the game that Maxwell possesses, Kurzawa must use the attributes that made him the player he is and more importantly showcase the abilities that Maxwell does not have in his arsenal.
Standing at 6 feet tall, the Frenchman’s aerial threat, athleticism and pace are large positives in his game that he harbours over Maxwell. If he is looking for how best to break into the starting XI then he should look no further than the emergence of right back Serge Aurier for inspiration.
If Kurzawa can start to impose his playing style like the Ivorian has then PSG could have two of the best young fullbacks in world football in their squad for the next 10 years.
The pressure is on for Layvin, but that comes with the territory when playing at Paris Saint-Germain. It remains to be seen how he will grasp the challenge, the incentives this season are huge and if he succeeds in Paris, he could have himself a busy summer in 2016.