The men who would be kings: Meet the princes of Paris Saint-Germain

Alex Grimm

Back when I was young(er), PSG were in the midst of a similar 'Golden Age' as currently. George Weah, David Ginola, Bernard Lama, Paul Le Guen - the names may be different now, the money even more plentiful, but once again they've assembled a dazzling collection of stars in the French capital. These are their stories.

GOALKEEPER

Salvatore Sirigu (Italy, GK, 27) - Made a name for himself at Palermo, just like current teammates Pastore and Cavani.  A few million euros later he arrived in Paris in 2011 and has become a fan favorite.  Were it not for the evergreen Gianluigi Buffon, he would quite possibly be Italy's number one goalkeeper as well.  Someday soon, perhaps.  Tall and quick and a very good shot stopper, he has played every minute of every domestic and Champions League game for Laurent Blanc this season.

DEFENSE

Thiago Silva (Brazil, DC, 29) - Somewhat unbelievably for me, the world's best center back is pushing 30.  Not that the club and national captain is showing any signs of slowing down - 30 is the new 20! - despite a recent propensity for picking up hamstring injuries.  PSG forked over the second highest transfer fee ever for a defender for him and it was worth every penny.  Since his arrival in 2012, the Parisians have lost just five times with him in lineup in all competitions and just once this season.  Lately, he's been spotted wearing a mask due to a fractured cheekbone, but all signs point to him being available to laugh off any challenge posed by Fernando Torres or Demba Ba.

Alex (Brazil, DC, 31) - Fellow Brazilian and a howitzer of a leg, Alex is a cult hero around these parts for his thunderous, murderous free kicks.  Though he never quite lived up to his promise - after falling out with AVB, he was replaced like-for-like by a pre-Mourinho Gary Cahill quite ably - Alex is a solid option for Laurent Blanc.  In fact, Alex leads all center backs in minutes (Ligue 1 + Champions League) and the club has yet to lose this season when he makes an appearance.  Though we should mention that PSG have only lost three times all season.

Marquinhos (Brazil, DC, 19) - Completing the Brazilian center back trio is the young and highly promising €30m-man, a firm third fiddle despite his breakout season at Roma in 2012/13 that got all tongues wagging across Europe.  Interestingly, the quick and agile young star has been a near-constant in Blanc's Champions League lineups and he may yet get the nod over the slower veteran Alex.

Maxwell (Brazil, DL, 32) - More Brazilians!  The oldest of PSG's regulars - yes, two months older than even Ibrahimovic - Maxwell has had an illustrious career spanning many storied clubs and associated successes (he has eight league titles and one Champions League to his name).  He broke onto the scene at Ajax alongside his age-brothers Ibrahimovic, Sneijder, and the one year younger Rafael van der Vaart before making three-year stops at Internazionale and Barcelona.  He's been a fixture at left back in Paris since 2012.

Gregory van der Wiel (Netherlands, DR, 26) - The man we almost got to call Dave, he was linked ad nauseam with Chelsea before PSG swooped in to the tune of €6m to whisk him away from the Ajax incubator.  He's someone who's never quite convinced me personally that he's ready for the highest levels of the professional game, but he seems settled enough in France where he gets to regularly make those clichéd lung-bursting runs up the right flank.  Alas, we won't get to see Hazard make a fool of him, as he's set to miss at least the first leg with a knee injury.  His replacement will be...

Christophe Jaillet (France, DR, 30) - Versatile, experienced, tireless.  Unspectacular.  Go and get him, Eden.

Lucas Digne (France, DL, 20) - The heir apparent for Maxwell's left back spot.  He's the French Luke Shaw.

MIDFIELD

Blaise Matuidi (France, MC, 26) - Hard to imagine PSG's (or the France national team's) midfield without this man, though for a while rumors of his departure had gathered a bit of steam.  Now locked down to 2018, he's set to command the French league and beyond for a good while.  Though he may lack certain physical attributes, he more than makes up for those with technique, brains, and stamina.  He's pretty great, is what I'm trying to say.

Thiago Motta (Italy/Brazil, DM, 31) - The hammer to Matuidi's sickle.  Born in Brazil but representing Italy, Motta was a Mourinho zealot during Inter's treble-winning season and the two have had nothing but kind words for each other since (see also: Ibrahimovic).  Strength and aggression in abundance, it is no surprise that Motta has collected four red cards in his two seasons at Parc des Princes.

Marco Verratti (Italy, MC, 21) - The reality of Verratti has yet to catch up to the idea of Verratti, though he's got plenty of time still.  He is hilariously bad at tackling or defense in general, but can pick a fancy pass or trick with the best of them when he puts his mind to it.  In a parallel universe, he may be called Josh McEachran yet he has hoodwinked several managers into giving him lots of important, top-level playing time for several years now.

Yohan Cabaye (France, MC, 28) - We all know him from his Newcastle days; Cabaye is the latest recruit in PSG's FFP-breaking/defying schemes, arriving for around £20m in January.  He's yet to truly establish himself however in Blanc's team selections, which is a bit of head-scratcher.

Javier Pastore (Argentina, AM, 24) - Not sure whether to lump him into midfield or the attack, but it may not matter much as Pastore seems to have fallen off quite sharply since his halcyon days of getting fawned over by everybody and their B-team in Europe.  Chelsea missed out on him and got Juan Mata instead (and then got paiiiiiid, boyyy), so it probably all worked out for the best.  The Argentine has one goal and zero assists to his name this season after collecting 24 and 16, respectively over his first two seasons in Paris.

Adrien Rabiot (France, MC, 18) - Glorious hair and glorious future.

Jérémy Ménez (France, AM, 26) - Ménez was awesome in FM 2011.  In reality... well, not so much.

ATTACK

Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden, ZLATAN, 32) - The only man in the world who dares to Zlatan.

Edinson Cavani (Uruguay, FC/FR/FL, 27) - The object of my dreams and the sixth most expensive player in the world.  Sadly, I don't think he'll ever play for Chelsea even though less than 12 months ago I was convinced that was going to happen and we'd pluck him out of the shadow of Mount Vesuvius and crown him the next King of Stamford Bridge.  Once again, it is the hope that kills you.  Cavani may be surrounded by fairly constant speculations of unhappiness and subpar performances (in part due to some Achilles issues), yet he's already crested the 20-goal level for the fourth straight year.  He and Lavezzi tore us apart in Naples two years ago and while I don't expect a Mourinho side to suffer as ignominiously as an AVB side, PSG's attacking trio is enough to weaken the knees of even the world's most stalwart of defenses.

Lucas Moura (Brazil, FR/FL, 21) - Once upon a time, he looked like the next greatest thing ever, yet it took Lucas a good six months to settle in Paris following his big money move from Sao Paulo in January 2013.  He's slowly become a key part of Blanc's forward rotation, which of course revolves around Planet Zlatan.  Just 21, the world is still Lucas's oyster with all his tricks and skills and silky pace.  Whether he'll live up to it remains to be seen.

Ezequiel Lavezzi (Argentina, FL, 28) - El Pocho is another object of my desires, his quickness and work rate making him a complete winger in the modern game.  While he has completed 90 minutes just once all season, I cannot imagine PSG lining up without him when the referee's whistle blows on Wednesday night.

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