Since PSG were taken over by the Qatar Sports Investment group in 2012, the Paris side have become a regular fixture in latter stages of the Champions’ League, going toe to toe with some of Europe’s biggest clubs and are well known for their stronghold on French football and for splashing the cash on world football’s biggest names.
However, as by far and away the dominant club in the French capital, with first choice over any up and coming Parisian starlets, PSG have developed a youth academy to rival the likes of the famous La Masia and De Toekomst for years to come, producing a number of truly elite talents already. Loïc Mbe Soh looks like he could well be the next to join the ever-growing list of PSG’s potentially world class academy graduates.
Born in Souza Gare, a small village in Cameroon, Mbe Soh joined Paris Saint-Germain’s academy in 2013 as a central defender and has since represented both France’s U16 and U17 national teams and has captained both sides on a number of occasions as well as well as playing a leading role in guiding PSG’s U17 side to the league title in 2016/17. His performances over his time playing for the academy and French international sides seemed to be enough to convince the PSG hierarchy to tie down the youngster to a 3-year deal as he signed his first professional contract with the club in July 2018.
On 11th May this year, Mbe Soh became the youngest player to start a game in Ligue 1 since 2012 at age 17 years and 10 months, making his first team debut for PSG playing the full 90 minutes alongside Marquinhos as they beat Angers away from home 2-1, before getting another 90 minutes under his belt as PSG humiliated Dijon 4-0 at Le Parc des Princes a week later. Mbe Soh impressed on both occasions but in particular at home against Dijon as he made two interceptions, blocked two shots, had a shot hit the post and completed a dribble, showcasing some of his excellent attributes on his home debut.
Mbe Soh is extremely comfortable with the ball at his feet, often picking up the ball and carrying it to the halfway line or further before distributing it or even playing almost as a defensive midfielder as seen against Bayern Munich in PSG’s pre-season in 2018, where he would regularly step into midfield or out wide, providing Marquinhos and Diarra with an outlet. His firm presence on the ball and passing ability is clear, however he could well be compared to a young Kolo Touré with his powerful and direct play challenging players and speed to get back and cover. Standing at 6’1”, this physicality that he brings to his game has already earned him the nickname “O’Monstro 2.0”, in reference to his idol and captain of Les Parisiens, Thiago Silva.
This summer, the recently turned 18-year-old impressed hugely at the Toulon Tournament, a competition which has unearthed some of football’s brightest prospects in recent years and is starting to turn heads and draw attention with his performances, being named in The Guardian’s 60 best young talents in world football born in 2001.
It’s unclear what PSG’s long-term intentions are for Mbe Soh, however it’s thought that Thomas Tuchel is fond of the player. Speaking after his debut against Angers, Tuchel said – “He did the preparation with us, he has been training with us for three weeks. He has a good mentality, he is calm, he works and it is very good.”
Fans of Les Rouge et Bleu and football enthusiasts alike consider Mbe Soh to be one of the best of his generation, securing one of PSG’s centre-back spots for years to come, following in the footsteps of the likes of Presnel Kimpembe and in a recent interview, Mbe Soh expressed his desire to go on to play for the club and make a name for himself at PSG, stating – “Presko (Kimpembe) is an example for us, he managed to win the first team, to take responsibility. club, I am a young player who wants to make his place. I want to be a player of the first team, but you have to be patient and wait for his time.”
Despite Mbe Soh’s clear desire to stay and fight for his place at PSG, fans will no doubt be worried as the club has had to sell a number of their star academy players in recent years, the latest of which being Moussa Diaby and Timothy Weah for very little to no money in order to balance out the books for FFP reasons, and with the Paris side being linked to Leonardo Bonucci in recent weeks, some fans are seriously questioning why Tuchel and PSG’s chiefs are not affording more minutes and responsibilities to someone like Mbe Soh, who looks ready to take on a role in the first team. One thing is for certain, if PSG continue to throw around cash like they are at the moment, some players are going to have to go and unfortunately history tells us that more often than not, it is the academy players that get the first chop.
Despite all this, it is clear Mbe Soh is destined for great things whether at Paris Saint-Germain or elsewhere. The young Frenchman has everything needed to play at the very top level and I’m sure we’ll see him in the starting XI of one of Europe’s top clubs sooner rather than later.