Football Features

Former PSG academy products who left to succeed elsewhere, from Coman to Evra

By Chris Smith

Former PSG academy players

Published: 18:00, 15 June 2021

Since Qatar Sports Investments (QSI) took over PSG in 2011, the club have gone on a mammoth spending spree and achieved untold domestic success.

The Parisians have won seven league titles during that time, spending an entire government budget on the likes of Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Thiago Silva to become the undoubted kings of French football.

Like any club that heavily relies on outside investment, though, PSG’s academy products have often found themselves frozen out by the first-team manager’s need to find immediate success. Think of PSG as the French Chelsea before the transfer ban and Frank Lampard’s youth-driven revolution.

Most recently, USMNT starlet Timothy Weah moved to Lille in search of senior football, while the likes of Moussa Diaby and Stanley Nsoki also struggled to overhaul the insane talent that currently fills the ranks of the French champions.

But if you look further back, PSG’s academy has been producing and selling (or parting with in some way or another) these sorts of talents for years, with each one going on to have various levels of success throughout their careers. We’ve taken a look at 14 of them.

1. Kingsley Coman

  • Age: 25
  • Current club: Bayern Munich

There’s probably no better place to start than with Kingsley Coman, arguably the most high-profile PSG academy product still playing the game. A talent so highly regarded he won five top-flight titles with three different clubs before turning 21.

Coman made just four appearances for the PSG first team before heading off to Italian giants Juventus in 2014. The flying winger never quite fit in with the Old Lady, but a two-year loan move to Bayern Munich between 2015-2017 proved fruitful, and he earned a permanent move to the German goliaths.

2. Matteo Guendouzi

  • Age: 22
  • Current club: Arsenal

When Matteo Guendouzi rocked up at the Emirates at the start of the 2018/19 season, many thought the shaggy-haired midfielder was one for the future and wouldn’t get much of a look-in for the Arsenal first team.

However, that would not prove the case. Guendouzi has featured heavily over the last two years, showing an admirable level of commitment and guile to secure a first-team spot, but more recently he has fallen down the pecking order with questions marks over his attitude. His time in north London now looks close to an end.

Guendouzi joined the PSG academy in 2005 at just six years old, remaining there until 2014 before moving to Lorient. It was with Les Merlus where the 19-year-old caught the eye, making 30 senior appearances and playing with the grace and swagger of a seasoned pro.

3. Moussa Dembele

  • Age: 24
  • Current club: Lyon

Moussa Dembele spent eight years in the PSG academy between 2004 and 2012 but decided on a move to England at the tender age of 16. Dembele turned a number of heads during his time with Fulham between 2013-2016, with a host of European giants queuing up to take a look at him.

In the end, he spent the next two seasons being pretty much the best striker in Scotland with Celtic before moving back to France with Lyon, where he has passed the 20-goal mark in his first two seasons before joining Atlético Madrid on loan.

4. Jean-Kevin Augustin

  • Age: 23
  • Current club: FC Nantes

On so many occasions, you find young talent leaving giant clubs as a result of not getting enough chances with the first team. This was not the case with Jean-Kevin Augustin, who scored just two goals in 31 games for PSG before ending an eight-year association with the club in 2017, moving to RB Leipzig for a reported £11.4m fee.

The 21-year-old found more success with the German club so far, scoring 20 goals and providing eight assists in 67 appearances. However, Leipzig chose to loan him out last season, first to Monaco and then to Leeds United, where he failed to adapt to Marcelo Bielsa’s style of play and made just three appearances before moving him onto FC Nantes.

5. Adrien Rabiot

  • Age: 26
  • Current club: Juventus

After several seasons spent locked in bitter contract disputes that played out publicly, Rabiot finally left PSG for Juventus on a free transfer.

Like Sakho, Rabiot actually enjoyed an extensive senior career with Paris’ preeminent club after breaking through the academy. Lesser known is the fact the French midfield was actually also a part of Manchester City’s youth set-up for a brief spell in 2008.

6. Odsonne Edouard

Age: 23

Current club: Celtic

Demeble isn’t the only goal machine Celtic can thank PSG for. The Bhoys’ SFWA Player of the Year recipient has scored 57 goals in 100 league games since joining them permanently from PSG in 2018 (having spent the previous season impressing in Glasgow on loan).

Edouard was never given a single game by PSG in Ligue 1. His only experience in that competition came during a loan stint with Toulouse in 2016/17.

7. Youssouf Mulumbu

  • Age: 34
  • Current club: Unattached

Youssouf Mulumbu spent two years in the PSG youth ranks from 2004-2006, making 15 first-team appearances for the Parisians.

When it became clear the Congolese midfielder wasn’t going to make the grade in Paris, a loan move to Amiens followed, before Mulumbu moved to England with West Brom. He spent seven years with the Baggies and making 211 appearances as a reliable, combative presence in the middle of the park.

After a short spell with Norwich City, Mulumbu finished a loan spell at Kilmarnock from fellow Scottish club Celtic in 2019 and is now without a club.

8. Mamadou Sakho

  • Age: 31
  • Current club: Crystal Palace

Mamadou Sakho’s began with PSG when he joined their youth team as a 12-year-old in 2002. He made over 200 appearances for the first team and even became captain before the influx of money from QSI began restricting his opportunities at the Parc Des Princes, resulting in a move to Liverpool in 2013.

Now 31, Sakho is closing in on 150 appearances in England. He’s currently at Crystal Palace and has put in a number of strong performances in the Premier League, helping him rack up 29 caps for France to date.

9. Christopher Nkunku

  • Age: 23
  • Current club: RB Leipzig

Nkunku racked up over 70 appearances for PSG and looked to be making significant inroads in the starting XI, but the wellspring of midfield talent in front of him meant that consistent playing time was hard to come by, and he ultimately swapped one newly mega-rich club for another.

At the start of the 2019/20 season RB Leipzig swooped for Nkunku and he has been a mainstay ever since, proving the creative catalyst in the club’s march to a first Champions League semi-final, where the Saxony club met, you guessed it, PSG.

10. Yacine Adli

  • Age: 20
  • Current club: Bordeaux

Yacine Adli reportedly turned down a move to Arsenal in the summer of 2018, instead choosing to remain with PSG until January. The 18-year-old failed to make a single first-team appearance for the Parisians before making a £4m move to Bordeaux, where he is still striving to become a top creative midfielder.

On snubbing Arsenal, he said: “I don’t regret anything. Even if I didn’t play once over the past six months in Paris, I’m glad I chose them.

“I was around great players every day. I progressed, but that’s in the past. Now, I’m focused on Bordeaux.”

11. David N’Gog

  • Age: 32
  • Current club: Retired

After graduating from the PSG academy, the French forward scored just three goals in 25 appearances for the first team before heading off to Liverpool.

Much of his time with the Reds was spent playing second-fiddle to Fernando Torres and he managed only 19 goals in 94 appearances. The 30-year-old mirrored his Liverpool form following a move to Bolton, scoring 16 goals in 91 games.

Spells with Swansea City, Stade de Reims, Panionios and Ross County followed before N’Gog rocked up at Budapest Honved in Hungary, and then FK Zalgiris in the Lithuanian top flight, before announcing his retirement from football in June 2020.

12. Gabriel Obertan

  • Age: 32
  • Current club: Erzurumspor

Gabriel Obertan spent just over a year in the PSG academy between 2003-2004, although he is most fondly remembered for being one of Sir Alex Ferguson’s worst signings after the Frenchman moved to Old Trafford from Bordeaux in 2009.

Obertan made 28 mainly anonymous appearances for the Red Devils before leaving for Newcastle United in 2011. A nomadic career has seen the 30-year-old turn out in Russia and Bulgaria, with a short spell with Wigan Athletic sandwiched in-between, before he surfaced at Turkish Super Lig side Erzurumspor.

13. Patrice Evra

  • Age: 40
  • Current club: Retired

Patrice Evra’s career will be best remembered for his eight-year spell with Manchester United, where he won five Premier League titles and the 2008 Champions League.

Evra, an 81-time France international, has turned out for Juventus, Marseille and West Ham since, attacking fans and gaining a taste for raw chicken in the meantime. The 39-year-old is now retired.

With all of this success, combat and culinary experimentation, you’d be forgiven for not knowing that Evra came through the PSG youth ranks in 1997-1998.

14. Nicolas Anelka

Age: 42

Current club: Retired

You could make a strong case for Nicolas Anelka being the most high-profile graduate of the PSG academy in the modern era.

He left the Parisians for Arsenal in 1997 and went on to turn out for Real Madrid, Liverpool, Man City, Fenerbahce, Bolton Wanderers, Chelsea, Shanghai Shenhua, Juventus, West Brom and Mumbai City, with another spell at PSG for good measure.

Anelka scored 210 goals at club level before retiring in 2015, with 14 goals in 50 caps for France, and won a number of league and European titles, as well as the Uefa European Championships in 2000. Now 41, Anelka is giving something back to young footballers as the manager of Lille’s youth team.