Manchester United have been criticised for not signing adequate cover at the back this summer, but over in France, Paris Saint-Germain nearly let one of their top defenders slip from under their noses. At only 20 years old, Brazilian defender Marquinhos was linked with a €40 million move to Barcelona during the summer, and now he faces the Spanish side in what will be his biggest test of the season.
Last season Marquinhos was PSG’s third choice centre-back. Playing behind Captain Thiago Silva and fellow countrymen Alex, the youngest defender of the three still managed 17 starts, impressing in his debut season.
Marquinhos spent the summer watching his teammates perform in the 2014 World Cup, and it gave him the opportunity to start the season quickly. David Luiz made a late return to the squad after agreeing his €50 million move from Chelsea and Silva picked up an injury in a meaningless friendly against Napoli. Suddenly, Marquinhos was the No. 1 choice centre-back.
Despite the extra pressure, the defender has stepped up and been an inspiration to his teammates. Even when David Luiz returned to the lineup, his performances have been short of the high standard set by Marquinhos.
Barcelona were very interested in the former Roma player this summer, offering €40 million for his services. PSG were not far away from letting the young player go. They had planned to bring in more experienced cover if he left, but now, just eight games into the season, you can see how big a disaster that would have been for the Parisian club.
PSG host Barcelona on Tuesday night in the Parc des Princes and now Marquinhos is one of the first name on the team sheet. The challenge of coming up against Lionel Messi, Neymar and Pedro will be his biggest test to date.
Captain Thiago Silva will soon return from injury, with the expectation that Laurent Blanc will feel the pressure to play his €90 million defensive partnership of Silva and Luiz, but right now the younger Brazilian has to be a must pick. If he can stop Messi & Co. on Tuesday, it will be very hard to leave the wonderful youngster out of the team.
If Marquinhos does lose his place to his older counterparts, he could become unhappy at the club, that’s when clubs that need a top-class defender, like Manchester United, could step in and make the player an offer of first team football.