Paris Saint-Germain sporting director Leonardo declared war on Premier League and Bundesliga clubs last week for poaching PSG’s young players.
Bayern Munich came certain particular criticism because the Brazilian cited the case of Tanguy Nianzou, who featured regularly for PSG last term only to depart on a free transfer to hitch up with the side who defeated the Parisians in August’s Champions League final, courtesy of a goal by one among their own academy graduates in Kingsley Coman.
Since moving to Germany, Nianzou, who was referred to as Kouassi in France, has played only 21 minutes, albeit largely due to physical problems. Referencing German and English clubs specifically, Leonardo told France Bleu: “They ask the families of the young players, they struggle to convince them by making grand promises once they are only 15. It should be forbidden!”
Brexit has essentially solved the difficulty of Premier League clubs taking over players so young, but the issues presented by Bundesliga sides remain.
PSG have certainly lost a plethora of players to Germany, with Dan-Axel Zagadou (Borussia Dortmund), Moussa Diaby (Bayer Leverkusen) and Christopher Nkunku (RB Leipzig) three of their other more notable names to form the move in recent years.
“The problem is that they think elsewhere it’s paradise,” Leonardo said. “We say: ‘PSG have lost a youngster’ but sometimes i feel that it’s not PSG that loses, but the children who lose PSG. There are many young players who want to return back.”
In truth, first-team opportunities for PSG’s current academy players are still limited. Diaby, Nkunku and Nianzou had a couple of chances in Paris, but none had guarantees of continued involvement, even after bright displays within the varsity .
Obviously, Leonardo would be advised to urge his own house so as before pointing fingers at others but he did make a crucial point about the movement of young players within the game today and his anger is unlikely to subside any time soon.
Bild are now reporting that PSG’s 17-year-old centre-back Soumaila Coulibaly will join Dortmund within the summer.