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FEATURE | Amid the deadline day furore, PSG’s smartest decision may have been to spare Colin Dagba from their youth fire-sale

It’s been a whirlwind 12 months for Paris Saint-Germain’s young right-back Colin Dagba. After signing for the capital club from Championnat National side US Boulogne in 2016, Dagba put together several eye-catching displays domestically and in the UEFA Youth League to throw himself in the mix for a future call up to the first team squad.

Dagba didn’t have to wait long for his chance as in the backdrop of the 2018 World Cup and with PSG’s major stars on their holidays, Dagba was included in Thomas Tuchel’s squad for the pre-season tour of Asia.

He made his full debut in the Trophée des Champions success over AS Monaco and impressed as PSG swept aside the Principality side 4-0 in Shenzhen, China. A week later, Dagba made his Ligue 1 debut against Caen at Parc des Princes where he lined up alongside Marquinhos and Thiago Silva as PSG despatched of their opponents 3-0.

Since then, Dagba has gone on to make 25 impressive appearances for Paris Saint-Germain and has become somewhat a fan favourite.

Everyone loves a pleasant surprise and Dagba was just that for PSG supporters. A player not expected to play in the first team, suddenly became thrust into the limelight and used his opportunist instincts to become a trusted member of the squad.

Some of his popularity may be owing to the strained relationship between Thomas Meunier and PSG’s ultras. Some of PSG’s most dedicated supporters have found it difficult to show any kind of affection to the Belgian after his social media activity showed to endorse the supporters of Olympique de Marseille – PSG’s biggest rivals. Add to that, the prolonged indifferent form of the ex-Club Brugge man and very quickly, there were calls for Dagba to start ahead of the Belgian.

There is little doubt that the situation with Meunier presented Dagba with an opportunity to showcase his talents further, as well as cement his popularity amongst the Parisian faithful.

The 20-year-old right-back who plays with a smile has become easy to admire. He plays with a confidence way beyond his tender years and devoid of any fear in a team that has succumbed to pressure on many high-profile occasions. Dagba brought a calmness to the team and has showed his competency particularly in attacking transitions, providing a foil for Angel Di Maria and offering pace and width on the counter.

Impressively, Dagba has excellent defensive awareness and has an ability to sense danger, to put his body on the line and provide crosses to PSG’s attacking trio.

In February, Dagba’s impressive efforts were rewarded with a second-half appearance in the Champions’ League last 16 first leg against Manchester United. Although Meunier was injured for the game, there were no concerns that Dagba, who replaced Thilo Kehrer on the evening, was going to appear for PSG for a game of such importance. The youngster more than held his own against the the experience of Alexis Sanchez as PSG came away with a 2-0 lead in the tie.

The trust shown in him to play at Old Trafford in such a pivotal game provided Dagba with a key moment so far in his career. “It was incredible,” Dagba said after the final whistle. “I didn’t think I would play in a game with such high stakes like that. I work every day and I give the best of myself.”

Tuchel has shown that he is not afraid to throw Dagba into the mix in the big games and the German tactician has gone public on many occasions to show his affection for the young right-back.

Clearly, Tuchel is a big fan of Colin Dagba and this owes to him doing exactly what is asked of him. Certainly, Dagba was surprised by the amount of playing time he was given during the 2018/19 campaign however, what started out as a season objective of integration into the squad, ended with Colin Dagba being a key part of the team.

It has been a summer of change at Paris Saint-Germain with the capital club selling off a number of their young academy graduates. Dagba has seen Stanley N’Soki, Moussa Diaby, Metehan Guclu, Timothy Weah, Arthur Zagre among others leave for pastures new but finds himself an important and trusted member of the PSG squad.

This season could be a defining one for Dagba with the continued patchy form of Thomas Meunier and the backing of Thomas Tuchel. Now boasting an enhanced level of maturity and a year of Ligue 1 and Champions’ League experience behind him, we should expect a continuation of his development and maybe for him, a run of games to cement himself as a regular starter in the team.

Although still a raw talent, 20-year-old Dagba has all the credentials needed to be PSG’s future first choice right-back. With so many of PSG’s ‘titi’s’ moved on this summer, the capital clubs’ supporters will be firmly behind the development of its young star and with the support of his manager, the rest is down to Dagba himself to unearth his true potential.

L.D.

 

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