With news that Tottenham had allegedly set a price tag of around €50m on Toby Alderweireld, Paris Saint-Germain were thrown into the mix.
At first, it’s easy to dismiss, mostly because the Ligue 1 leaders are linked with so many players over the course of the season.
Secondly, there’s also the question of money, as Unai Emery’s side weren’t exactly frugal last summer, splashing €222m on Neymar, as well as loaning Kylian Mbappé from AS Monaco, delaying the £166m payment by a year in order to comply with FFP regulations.
Over January, Paris Saint-Germain needed to sell, and they did, but not enough.
Lucas Moura’s transfer to Tottenham certainly helped, but, looking at old reports, it seems they still need around €45m in revenue from somewhere to be fully compliant.
At this point, it’s worth noting the likes of Gonçalo Guedes, Grzegorz Krychowiak, Odsonne Edouard and even Jesé could all be sold before the end of the season in order to push that problem to one side.
Now, if they manage it, and we’ve got a sneaky feeling they’ll do just that, they then have to pay Monaco for Mbappé, which leaves them in the red once again.
However, this is where other ‘surplus to requirement’ players come in, like Layvin Kurzawa, Javier Pastore and, to some extent, Angel Di Maria.
The French left-back has been reportedly unhappy in the French capital this season, allegedly furious at being left out of the Champions League clash against Real Madrid, and talk of a move to the Premier League has emerged, with both Tottenham and Chelsea linked.
Javier Pastore, as good as he is when not injured, remains on the squad’s periphery, and an exit seems inevitable, with a return to Italy a strong possibility.
As for Di Maria, the Argentinian has been used efficiently by Unai Emery, but he’s one of the few dispensable players (considering the attack for the foreseeable future appears to be Neymar, Edinson Cavani and Mbappé) still capable of bringing in a lot of money.
This, alongside some new sponsorship, points towards Paris Saint-Germain comfortably dealing with the Mbappé purchase, leaving them with some wiggle room in the transfer market to strengthen other areas.
This is where Toby Alderweireld comes in.
If the Tottenham centre-back can, in fact, be acquired for €50m, then Paris Saint-Germain should jump at the opportunity to strengthen their defence.
As things stand, the Ligue 1 leaders, for all their success domestically, keep falling short in Europe, with one of the reasons being: the defensive recruitment has never been a priority.
We all know that strikers and wingers are far more glamorous than defenders, and that’s exactly where Paris Saint-Germain have spent their money over the past three years.
The last time they bought a centre-back was in 2014-15, and that was David Luiz, who has since returned to Chelsea and has never been replaced.
Over the past couple of seasons, the club have survived with just three centre-backs, one of which is now 33 and past his best.
Marquinhos and Presnel Kimpembe are the future, but they still need someone to guide them, and while Thiago Silva can maybe do that off the pitch, there are question marks as to whether he can still also do it on it these days.
Emery’s decision to leave him out of the first leg against Real Madrid pointed towards the club potentially realising that, and perhaps, with their front line sorted for the foreseeable future (and by that we mean next year), we might see a shift in the spending.
The problem is, it’s not just the centre-back position that needs work, but the whole defence.
None of the full-backs at the club would ever be considered “elite”, which is what the club is striving for, and nor would either of their defensive midfielders.
Thiago Motta is 35 and is on his way out, Lassana Diarra is just a short-term fix, Yuri Berchiche is only playing because the much maligned Layvin Kurzawa isn’t, and Dani Alves’ status has allowed him to supplant a defensively superior Thomas Meunier, who could very well leave this summer, disgruntled at the lack of opportunities.
That’s why bringing in someone like Tottenham’s Toby Alderweireld could be the first move towards actually getting the results they want in Europe.
The Belgian has been a key part in one of the Premier League’s best defences over the past three or so years, but the trophies have been lacking at both White Hart Lane and now Wembley.
He would bring years of experience in one of the most competitive leagues in the world to the table, and, at 29, would still be able to help for the next three, maybe four years.
Spurs’ decision to splash the cash on Ajax’s Davinson Sanchez, as well as bringing in Juan Foyth, appears to now be an indicator that the centre of defence is undergoing some kind of makeover, all the while conserving some experience by keeping one of the two ‘veterans’, so to speak.
The Colombian has shown he has the ability to help Tottenham get over a potential Alderweireld departure rather quickly, and selling the Belgian for €50m would also allow the club to make around £30m in profit on a 29-year-old.
The relationship between the London club and their Parisian counterparts is good, with both Lucas Moura and Serge Aurier arriving from the French capital over the past 12 months, so there shouldn’t be too many problems in completing what should be a relatively straightforward deal.
Actually, this all makes far too much sense, and common sense is something Paris Saint-Germain don’t appear to have.
At least, they haven’t shown the ability to have any recently.
Guess we’ll find out in August, won’t we?