Monday , January 20 2020

LIGUE 1 WEEKEND PREVIEW: Mauro Icardi is more important than ever to Paris Saint-Germain

Eyebrows were raised last summer when Paris Saint-Germain sanctioned the addition of Mauro Icardi to an already over-subscribed forward line. 

Four months on, and the decision appears a sound one.   

The Argentinian netted his first hat-trick for the capital outfit in the Coupe de la Ligue rout of Saint-Etienne on Wednesday night, taking his tally for the season to 17 goals in all competitions.

Mauro Icardi has emerged as an important signing for Paris Saint-Germain this campaign

LIGUE 1 FIXTURES THIS WEEKEND

Friday, January 10

 7.45pm — Rennes v Marseille

Saturday, January 11

4.30pm — Bordeaux v Lyon 

7pm — Metz v Strasbourg

7pm — Toulouse v Brest 

7pm — Nimes v Reims

7pm — Amiens v Montpellier

7pm — Angers v Nice

Sunday, January 12 

2pm — Saint-Etienne v Nantes

4pm — Dijon v Lille

8pm — PSG v Monaco  

His impact has been a pleasant surprise, not least to his team-mates, who didn’t realise that there could be any room for improvement on a frontline that boasted the likes of Kylian Mbappe and Neymar. 

‘We didn’t think he was going to be as good,’ was Marco Verratti’s honest assessment when he spoke to Canal+ after the League Cup clash.

‘The first six months are always difficult, but it is incredible and we hope it will continue like this.’ 

Icardi hopes so, too. The Inter loanee has already made noises about prolonging his stay at the Parc des Princes. 

‘I feel very good in Paris,’ he told reporters off the back of his treble. ‘If I have a chance to stay, I will be happy.’  

Despite his apparent desire to stay put though, it is far from a certainty.

Juventus have made noises to suggest they are ready to lure Icardi back to Italy, with their chief football officer Fabio Paratici saying he was hopeful that a deal could still be done.

And the former Sampdoria forward’s wife and agent Wanda Nara has also intimated that a permanent move to the French capital is far from a certainty.

Icardi's wife Wanda Nara (right) insists that nothing has been decided about the star's future

Icardi’s wife Wanda Nara (right) insists that nothing has been decided about the star’s future

The striker has scored nine league goals in 11 appearances this season in France's top flight

The striker has scored nine league goals in 11 appearances this season in France’s top flight

‘It’s his decision, but nothing’s certain yet,’ she told the Italian press earlier this week.  

What is certain, is that PSG’s need for him to stay is growing greater by the day, as they brace themselves for a potentially huge attacking shake-up. 

It already appears inevitable that Edinson Cavani is set to leave after six and half years in Paris, with Icardi having leapfrogged the Uruguayan in the pecking order of Thomas Tuchel’s side.

Icardi has leapfrogged Edinson Cavani in the pecking order, with the Uruguayan set to leave

Icardi has leapfrogged Edinson Cavani in the pecking order, with the Uruguayan set to leave

Atletico Madrid are vying with Premier League sides such as Arsenal and Tottenham for his signature, and a January departure is a distinct possibility.

There is also the persistent chatter over the futures of both Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, with speculation intensifying over the latter’s future after he refused to talk about a possible contract extension.   

Mbappe was bringing out the party pieces during the win over Saint-Etienne, almost producing one of the goals of the season with a rabona effort from outside the area that curled just past the post.   

Kylian Mbappe has refused to talk about his future and has been coy on talks over a new deal

Kylian Mbappe has refused to talk about his future and has been coy on talks over a new deal

He’ll be out to catch the eye once more on Sunday evening, when PSG take on his former club Monaco in the capital.  

The principality outfit have had a change of management since Ligue 1 broke up for Christmas, with former Spain head coach Robert Moreno taking over from Leonardo Jardim, who was sacked for a second time by the club at the end of December.  

Moreno tasted victory in his first game, a 2-1 win at home to Stade Reims in the French Cup.  

Any positive result on Sunday evening would make for a dream start for the 42-year-old. 

Former Spain head coach Robert Moreno has replaced Leonardo Jardim in the Monaco dugout

Former Spain head coach Robert Moreno has replaced Leonardo Jardim in the Monaco dugout 

ELSEWHERE THIS WEEKEND…   

The action in France this weekend kicks off at the top of the table, when Andre Villas-Boas takes his second-place Marseille to Rennes, who sit in third. 

The visitors have a five-point cushion over their opponents and victory would cement their claim to an automatic Champions League spot for next season.  

With the transfer window in full swing, Metz will be relieved for the distraction of matters on the pitch. Vincent Hognon’s strugglers host Strasbourg, when forward Habib Diallo will once again be key. 

Andre Villas-Boas takes his Marseille side to Rennes as second take on third on Friday night

Andre Villas-Boas takes his Marseille side to Rennes as second take on third on Friday night

He has been consistently linked with Chelsea this window and keeping hold of the 24-year-old will be key to their survival hopes. 

Another striker possibly on the move this month is Moussa Dembele, and there are sure to be scouts in attendance when Lyon travel to Bordeaux on Saturday afternoon.  

Toulouse have not picked up a single point since October 19, but Ligue 1’s basement boys will be hoping to put that right when they host Brest on Saturday evening. 

Nimes are the other side languishing in the relegation zone, cut adrift from the rest, and host high-flying Reims

Amiens entertain Montpellier as they look to move out of the relegation play-off spot, while Angers – who have gradually slipped down the table after their impressive start – could be leapfrogged by Nice if Patrick Vieira’s men can take three points at Stade Raymond Kopa.

On Sunday, Claude Puel will be hoping his Saint-Etienne side can bounce back from their chastening midweek defeat at the hands of PSG when they host Nantes.

Lille travel to Dijon, with Victor Osimhen having rediscovered his touch in front of goal, with three goals in his last three matches in all competitions.  

Victor Osimhen has rediscovered his goalscoring touch, with three in three in all competitions

Victor Osimhen has rediscovered his goalscoring touch, with three in three in all competitions