PSG: The value of Mauro Icardi, explained

STADIO GIUSEPPE MEAZZA, MILANO, ITALY - 2018/12/11: Mauro Icardi of FC Internazionale celebrate after scoring a goal during Uefa Champions League Group B match between FC Internazionale and PSV Eindhoven.The match end in a tie 1-1. (Photo by Marco Canoniero/LightRocket via Getty Images)
STADIO GIUSEPPE MEAZZA, MILANO, ITALY - 2018/12/11: Mauro Icardi of FC Internazionale celebrate after scoring a goal during Uefa Champions League Group B match between FC Internazionale and PSV Eindhoven.The match end in a tie 1-1. (Photo by Marco Canoniero/LightRocket via Getty Images) /

The Mauro Icardi saga seemed a never-ending stream of statements and leaks by all parties other than Mauro Icardi. Between the hierarchy at Inter, his wife and agent Wanda Nara, and the rest of the speculating football community many things have been said and unsaid.

His move to PSG before the international summer transfer window closed was the final, merciful ending to a relationship that saw the one time captain and golden boy fall from grace at Inter. The importance of such a move for Icardi and PSG may even overshadow what it means for Inter itself. For that reason, Mauro Icardi, PSG and their mutually beneficial partnership will be the focus of this analysis.

There has hardly ever been any doubt of the skill possessed by Mauro Icardi. When right mentally and physically he is a sure bet in the box to score as an awesome number nine. His departure from Inter is undoubtedly a positive coup for the depth Thomas Tuchel has in Paris; depth has after all, been an issue for the Parisians in recent campaigns.

Since Neymar Jr. came to Paris from Barcelona in August of 2017, injuries and poor performances in crucial matches have plagued the team as a whole. It is easy to focus on Neymar because he is Neymar, but that would be naive, unjust and biased.

Edinson Cavani has found himself oft injured recently as he continues to age, despite continued productivity in front of goal when healthy. When Neymar and Mbappé are healthy this is of less concern thanks to the talent and versatility of the aforementioned players; the problem however, is compounded by that condition.

Kylian Mbappé has suffered from injuries as well in recent memory, although nothing like either Edinson Cavani or Neymar have experienced (as we’ll get to in quick succession). He is also by far the youngest and most closely connected player to Paris by way of his French citizenship and upbringing. PSG hopes to keep Mbappé for far longer than either Cavani or Neymar between the age of the former, and health of the latter; the latter is more worrisome than the former for Paris at this point obviously.

Neymar’s injury history to this point is becoming a real inflection upon his legacy, despite the prolific nature of his ability. Losing large swaths of each years campaign seems a foregone conclusion by the time each new September arrives. His ligaments and bones are clearly wearing down over time and as his career unfolds, he cannot be depended upon as names like Messi or Ronaldo can be. If he is injured for Paris, alongside Cavani, one person is left to shoulder the burden of expectations in Paris; Kylian Mbappé.

That the 21-year-old Mbappé is incapable of shouldering such a burden psychologically is as far from what I’m saying as one can travel. On the contrary, he is seemingly uniquely circuited to shoulder just such a burden. His rare mixture of passion, enthusiasm and congeniality puts many of the most personable athletes to shame with his frank and candid expression and performances.

No, what Mbappé is incapable of doing is carrying Paris to complete French and European domination without reliable offensive partners. Signing Idrissa Gueye from Everton was a fantastic move for the fortification of their defensive integrity in the midfield certainly, but Thomas Tuchel’s offense is as much a protection against goals as is the traditional defensive measures. Surrounding Kylian Mbappé with the proper world-class talent to accentuate his ability on the right wing is therefore equally crucial for the offense and defense; enter Mauro Icardi.

Mauro Icardi’s loan (with option to purchase) is insurance on multiple levels for Paris Saint-Germain. Despite failing to sell Neymar to Barcelona for Ousmane Dembele, before transferring for Wilfried Zaha, this deal has elements that the aforementioned proposition did as well.

Mauro Icardi can spell a healthy a Edinson Cavani so as to keep him fresh and healthy as he continues to produce at an ever more advanced age. Should Cavani fall prey to injury despite these precautions, Icardi offers a younger option with bountiful skill and production.

Icardi’s ability in the middle of the attacking front would keep Kylian Mbappé on his right side, offering vision, width, attacking prowess and pace that can seldom be matched by any other winger in the world. That Icardi, Mbappé and Paris as a while would benefit from this should go without saying surely.

Mbappé is certainly capable of playing across a front three at any position, although he is best on the right wing. When positioned there the opposition defense cannot collapse into the box against whoever sits there for Paris. This presence alone suggests that stocking up on central strikers is important to keeping Paris competitive if injuries should strike.

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Should Mauro Icardi fit in with Mbappé, he could find himself a friend and striking partner in Paris for years to come. This would be an ancillary benefit for Paris as well by stocking talented and amicable youth alongside the blooming French prodigy. Losing Kylian Mbappé is a doomsday scenario for the big wigs at PSG and so keeping him happy in position, status, team makeup and ambition is priceless for on and off-field success.

For Mauro Icardi himself, the positives for a new, fresh start are about as obvious as Neymar’s injury concerns. This will very likely be the most talented club Icardi has played on. Outside of the Argentinian International team it could be the most talented team he has ever played for. His production on a more talented club, in a league considered less difficult than the Italian Serie A should increase drastically.

Playing in between a (hopefully) healthy Neymar to the left and Mbappé on the right is a dream most humans can only live out on a gaming console. Mauro Icardi will get to man this position alongside Edinson Cavani until Cavani’s time in Paris comes to a final end. No longer the biggest fish in a small pond by many miles, Icardi may thrive with less of the spotlight touching him constantly. If he can get off to a relatively quick start, he could even leave all the rumors and criticism in Italy where they first began.

Adding Mauro Icardi to a team stocked with Neymar, Cavani and Mbappé already is truly frightening. Should Thomas Tuchel be able to sew these patches of extreme talent together this season, they will be nearly unstoppable amongst one another. Should this idea fail in practical execution, Paris will undoubtedly let him return to Inter after his loan. A “sentence” so to speak, back to the nightmare he endured for months prior to his move should be all the motivation one needs in Paris.