Updated: Jun 10, 2020
Wingers and Inside Forwards are the most valuable position on Football Index. A glimpse at the most expensive players shows Sancho, Mbappe, Neymar, Rashford, Werner, Messi, Sterling, Gnabry all in the Top 20. A forward as equally capable at creating chances as he is at finishing them offers the greatest return on investment (ROI).
PSG have been star-studded in attack for the last few years. Mbappé, Neymar and Di Maria form a formidable front three, whilst Icardi and additional signings have bolstered their depth. The issue they may have encountered is the fact that their academy prospects have left the French Giants and flourished when given minutes elsewhere. Perhaps PSG have got it wrong. Perhaps their talented youth need to be given more game time. It may not be the obvious choice to drop a star for a starlet, but it would least prove a financial benefit to increase the value of their young propspects who've made progress with first team minutes.
The three stats that most traders first look at are games played (minutes), goals scored and assists. If a player is capable of double digits in goals and assists in a season, he's likely in the Top 200 regardless of age. Plenty of those names in FI Top 20 are goal or assist leaders (or in Messi's case, both) for their respective leagues.
There are three specific players in their early 20s that have grown in popularity this season on the basis of their contributions in goals and assists. Strangely enough, they all developed at PSG before moving on in the last couple of years. PSG will be kicking themselves for the prices they let them all go at.
This season alone, they have collectively contributed 31 goals and 32 assists for their respective teams. PSG sold all three for a total of £35m. Could this have been a big mistake? Or were they right to prioritise every forward they favoured this campaign?
Christopher Nkunku | £3.09
Nkunku is leading RB Leipzig in assists this season. He's tallied an eye-opening 15 assists, along with 5 goals, in 28 Bundesliga appearances. It's worth noting he's also only started 2/3 matches and played just 67% of the minutes. The 22 year old left Paris last season and has established himself as a star-in-the-making in his debut season in Bundesliga. He's been somewhat overshadowed by Timo Werner, but in all likelihood will step into the spotlight in seasons to come. Having cost just £12m last summer, he's destined for a huge bid from some bigger clubs if he continues his form. Nkunku offers a versatile, well-rounded style of play from either a wing or central attacking midfield position. His vision is exceptional, whilst his set-piece delivery has also been an asset to RBL this season. Going forward, Nkunku could be one of the most exciting prospects in German Football.
Moussa Diaby | £2.25
Diaby hasn't had a bad season either. He's offered 5 assists and 4 goals to Leverkusen's campaign. It's easy to see why he's grown to from £1.15 last June to £2.25 at present. Diaby is a very quick footed winger who's ability to beat defenders 1-on-1 is lethal. He's got a good finishing touch that Leverkusen will certainly rely on should Havertz leave this summer. The most exciting aspect of this investment is the fact that the 20 year old has only started half of the games and played half of the minutes in Bundesliga this season. His debut campaign in Germany has been a gradual introduction - it's reasonable to assume if he'd started all games he'd have double the statistics and be on track for double-digit goals and assists over the course of the season.
Odsonne Edouard | £2.34
The Frenchman left PSG back in 2018 for Celtic, but it's been the 19/20 season that has seen him rise on FI. He was just £0.65 last June. Having been a fringe PSG player, he was loaned to Toulouse in 2016/17, then loaned to Celtic the season after before the Scottish side permanently signed him two summers ago. Although he's not playing in a PB league, his performance statistics are worth a look. He's been instrumental for Celtic - 21 goals and 12 assists in 27 games. Outstanding. Edouard was rumoured to Arsenal throughout May, though looks as though he could stay put for one more season. It's hard to see Celtic retaining him for much longer given his output. At 22 years old, he will be a big-money signing and a potential superstar. Keep your eyes peeled!
What will come of the next prospects?
This is where it gets interesting. Adil Aouchiche has flown on the index despite barely playing. Perhaps it's wonderkid hype, or perhaps traders heavily anticipate that he will follow in Nkunku and co.'s footsteps and become an influential European player. Other academy graduates in PSG's first team set up include Colin Dagba, who has shown a small glimpse of promise but is presumably a way off challenging regular starting XI yet. It could be the same strategy applied to both of these players, offloading the youngsters for a fraction of the cost of a new star to join their ranks - time will tell.
PSG signed Herrera, Sarabia and Gueye whilst letting go of their best academy graduates and failing to agree to a new contract for their longest serving first team graduate Adrien Rabiot. It's yet to be seen if their academy strategy is financially benefitting the French champions, or if they will be kicking themselves in seasons to come when they try to buy-back the very players that developed in the Parisian set up.