As the 18th century French solider and politician François de Charette famously said, “you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs”. That’s a proverb those in the French capital are currently coming to terms with in the case of Gonçalo Guedes.
By cooking up an attacking delight last summer with the acquisitions of Neymar and Kylian Mbappé for around €400m, Paris Saint-Germain are now trying to cash in on some of the lower-profile assets on their books, in order to boost their revenues sufficiently to comply with Financial Fair Play regulations. Even with Mbappé’s loan-then-purchase deal having been carefully constructed, PSG need to raise some money, and quickly.
That’s where Guedes comes in, as he is set to become the superstar pawn of the Ligue 1 side’s Neymar-Mbappé revolution. Currently on loan at Valencia, the 21-year-old winger has set LaLiga alight this season and his performances are the primary reason for Los Che’s lofty position in the league table. Not only has he scored three goals and assisted a further six, but he has been one of their leaders, taking matches by the scruff of the neck and shaking the three points out of them, like a playground bully extracting lunch money.
Last weekend’s 2-1 victory over Girona was the perfect example, as the Portuguese player didn’t get on the scoresheet or assist, but he was undeniably the man of the match. Besides Lionel Messi, he is probably the most dangerous player with the ball at his feet in LaLiga and has even been tipped as a potential future Ballon d’Or winner by some in the Spanish media.
Given his potential and how important he has already been for them, Valencia are understandably keen to keep the former Benfica player, whose loan deal expires in June, and they are one of the potential bidders. French media reported at the end of December that a deal in the region of €35m had already been agreed, although those reports seem to have been premature.
“I’m not sure if Valencia have the economic capabilities to sign a player like Guedes,” coach Marcelino said in a press conference this very week, slamming the brakes on the rumours for the time being. “This football transfer market is completely crazy, disproportionate and full of inflation” he added.
Valencia, then, could struggle to meet PSG’s demands, especially if a bidding war begins in England, where Arsenal and Manchester United are also said to be interested. For the Spanish side and for season ticket holders at the Mestalla, that would be a shame. For PSG, this would be an excellent development.
Even though Guedes is one of the most promising young players in European football and has come up with 40 assists already in his career, despite only celebrating his 21st birthday last November, these are the kind of sacrifices PSG must now make to sign Galáctico forwards, while satisfying UEFA’s FFP regulations at the same time. Guedes is the kind of player clubs like PSG should be targeting and should dream of having in their squad, but in order to protect their king-size transfers, they have to sacrifice a few pawns along the way.
Will it turn out to have been worth it? Possibly. Their front three of Neymar, Mbappé and Edinson Cavani are on fire and have scored a ridiculous 58 goals between them already in 2017/18, just halfway through the season. Yet players like Guedes can provide some more tactical balance, as well as some hope for the future. Break too many eggs, and omelette-making becomes unsustainable.