In the summer of 2021, PSG had what many dubbed the greatest ever transfer window.
Excluding the transfer of Danilo Pereira (which was just them exercising the buy option in a loan move), PSG signed Achraf Hakimi, Georginio Wijnaldum, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Nuno Mendes, Sergio Ramos and the coup of all coups: Lionel Messi.
The Parisians brought in a total of 18 league titles and nine Champions Leagues. A phenomenal array of talent, headlined of course by the late arrival of one of the greatest footballers of all time.
And as PSG currently sit top of Ligue 1, 13 points clear of second, one would have to assume those new signings have all delivered fantastically, yes?
Well, the truth isn’t so simple. So we’ve had a look at the six signings PSG made during the 2021 summer window and ranked them by impact so far this season. Who has excelled, and who has disappointed? Let’s have a look!
6. Georginio Wijnaldum (Free transfer, from Liverpool)
- League minutes played: 1,001
- Pass accuracy/chances created: 90.53%/6
Georginio Wijnaldum leaving Liverpool was supposed to be a seismic event, and after being courted by Barcelona all summer, him picking PSG last minute was meant to be a dagger into the heart of the dying Blaugrana.
Yet here we are in February 2022 and Liverpool are chasing a Quadruple, Barcelona are on the way back with a midfield full of young geniuses, and Wijnaldum was rumour to have been cut from PSG’s Champions League squad for the knockout stages (though it was Juan Bernat instead).
Nevertheless, the Dutch midfielder has been so underwhelming in Paris, not showing the best of either version of himself. He’s not been the safe-as-houses Liverpool Wijnaldum, nor the free-scoring Netherlands Wijnaldum.
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5. Sergio Ramos (Free transfer, from Real Madrid)
- League minutes played: 239
- Goals/Clearances (per 90 minutes): 1/2.64
Sergio Ramos has not been too bad for PSG when he has played. He’s even scored already! The issue is he’s barely played. As of February 2022 he’s featured in just four Ligue 1 games for a total of 239 minutes. He is currently injured and it’s touch-and-go whether he’ll be fit to face former side Madrid in the Champions League.
He’s actually made an impact, so he’s above Wijnaldum, but he’s mostly been hurt.
4. Nuno Mendes (Loan, from Sporting Portugal)
- League minutes played: 918
- Tackles per 90/Interceptions per 90/Chances created per 90: 2.35/1.08/1.08
PSG have a lot of left-backs on their books, from Juan Bernat to Layvin Kurzawa. Abdou Diallo has even played there for them. Mauricio Pochettino sought to correct all that by bringing in Nuno Mendes in the summer and, well, it kind of worked?
Mendes has played most of the games in Ligue 1 this season, including the big clashes against Lyon, Lille, Marseille and Nice, as well as all the Champions League games. He’s been generally quite solid and one expects his loan will be made permanent and he will be PSG’s starting left-back for many years to come.
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3. Gianluigi Donnarumma (Free transfer, from AC Milan)
- League minutes played: 900
- Save percentage/Clean sheets: 78.79/4
There was nothing wrong with Keylor Navas at PSG, but when you have the chance to sign Euro 2020 victor and Golden Ball winner Gianluigi Donnarumma for free, that’s a move you got to make. And PSG did.
Recovery after the Euros disrupted Donnarumma’s start to the season and so he hasn’t been at his best quite yet, but there have been stirrings of greatness from the Italian even as PSG’s attempts to rotate he and Navas hasn’t really helped either shot-stopper.
2. Lionel Messi (Free transfer, from Barcelona)
- League minutes played: 1,072
- Goals/Assists/Chances created: 2/7/36
When the greatest player in the world signs for your club, as a PSG fan you’d be entitled to expect fireworks on the pitch. That would be normal. After all, you watched this guy tear everyone (including your own team) apart for 17 years in that Blaugrana shirt. Now it’s your turn!
Well, it hasn’t quite worked out that way for PSG. Lionel Messi has been… fine? In the Champions League he’s been sensational, with five crucial goals to guide PSG into the knockout rounds. In Ligue 1, however, he’s been less stellar.
Messi has only scored twice and has seven assists off 36 chances created in Ligue 1 so far. He’s also hit the woodwork an astonishing seven times, more than any other player in the league. He’s seemingly bailed on being selected for certain games, preserving his fitness for Argentina or for major clashes.
There has been none of the otherworldly dominance we saw with Barcelona, but that’s to be expected given he’s a 34-year-old playing in a new country, league and team for the first time in his life.
So, he’s been good. But not great. And he’s Messi, so you expect greatness!
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1. Achraf Hakimi (€60m, from Inter Milan)
- League minutes played: 1,595
- Tackles/Interceptions/Chances created: 46/19/23
There can be no doubt who the best signing from PSG’s magical summer has been and that’s Achraf Hakimi. In a way it’s fitting as he’s the only one PSG actually spent a transfer fee on, but he’s also just been sublime.
Unlike the other new signings, Hakimi has been an almost ever-present. Only his trip to represent Morocco in the Africa Cup of Nations kept him out for any consistent time. Otherwise the right-back has been fit, ready and firing.
BEST RB IN THE WORLD.
GOOD NIGHT GUYS. 👋🏽
— Kylian Mbappé (@KMbappe) January 25, 2022
Hakimi leads PSG in tackles, is third in interceptions and joint-fourth for chances created. He has three goals and three assists and, while he didn’t do it for PSG, scored such a superb goal for Morocco that Kylian Mbappé loudly insisted he was the best right-back in the world.
There is no way that Hakimi, who is still just 23 mind you, is anything but PSG’s best signing of the summer. Hell, he might be among the very best signings for any European club this summer, such has been the scale of his impact. As years ago by and Hakimi continues to deliver excellence week-in-week-out in Paris, that €60m is going to be seen as a bargain.