Le50 2016: Marquinhos – Paris Saint-Germain
He may not yet be considered a first choice for Paris Saint-Germain, but that should not take away from the fact that Marquinhos is widely regarded as one of the world’s next great centre-backs.
In an era that favours the physical over the cerebral, the 21-year-old Brazilian has shown an ability to marry both attributes convincingly, and even when he arrived at the Parc des Princes in the summer of 2013 there was more than a hint of Thiago Silva about his displays.
Three seasons in France have brought over 100 appearances at the top level, though not always in his favoured position. Head coach Laurent Blanc has often favoured his solidity in the right-back role over the dynamism of Gregory van der Wiel or the bullishness of Serge Aurier in Champions League meetings against PSG’s sternest opponents, and in a pinch he has also been used in the midfield.
Not a natural in the final third of the field, despite a proficiency at getting on the end of set pieces to score, the future for the ex-Roma player lies in the heart of the defence.
His qualities are certainly recognised by Brazil national team boss Dunga, who has controversially dumped Thiago Silva – seen as mentally fragile – for the youngster. Marquinhos is similar in stature and style but he does not possess the same emotional baggage from failed attempts at the World Cup and Copa America in 2014 and 2015 respectively.
Indeed, the youngster is likely to have his shot at stardom this summer as he is liable to be a central figure in his national team’s push for Olympic gold at home in the summer – the one major honour missing from Brazil’s trophy cabinet.
For a player so young, he certainly carries himself in a remarkably well-rounded manner – but perhaps that is to be expected for someone who has already played top-level football in three countries: Brazil, Italy and France. What he might lack in experience, he makes up for with his cool head, technical qualities and maturity.
While he appears to enjoy life in Paris – he proposed to his girlfriend under the Eiffel Tower, for example – his lack of game time has been a persistent source of transfer speculation. The likes of Chelsea and especially Barcelona continue to be linked with a summer move, and the probability is that he would play just as much, if not more, at either of those sides.
“Everyone knows that there will have to be some reflection at the end of the season,” he told Le Parisien in March. “We’ll speak about the objectives of the club and my own personal targets. We’ll see how the season finishes.”
Ex-PSG defender Alex has advised the player to depart. Speaking to L’Equipe in September 2015, the veteran AC Milan man praised his compatriot’s qualities:
“Marquinhos would have a place at any major European club,” the centre-back explained. “His problem at PSG is that he faces competition from two of the best in the world in his position. And Thiago Silva and David Luiz still have five or six years in them. That’s a shame for Marquinhos.
“All the big clubs are keen to sign him. Every transfer window he receives some amazing offers. He is still young and has to play and show his worth.”
For the moment, PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi has dismissed the prospect of the club losing one of its rising stars, yet the prospect remains very real. His position is one that is a testament not only to his qualities as a player but also to the difficulties of playing for one of the world’s greatest clubs; he is a bench player any team would be proud of, regardless of his untapped potential.
Whatever Marquinhos’ future may hold on a personal level, it would be a tragedy for his club if he were to leave with so much of his potential in Paris unfulfilled.
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