Eight big problems Luis Enrique must solve at PSG as new manager gets to work

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The Spanish coach isn't expected to have an easy start to his tenure at Parc des Princes, with a number of issues to iron out in the coming weeks

So, it's all finally sorted. On the fourth time of asking, Paris Saint-Germain have got their man. Luis Enrique is next on the list of acclaimed coaches to walk through the doors at Parc des Princes, set to sign a two-year deal to lead the reigning Ligue 1 champions. And he arrives with a solid resume. He won the treble at Barcelona and also guided a flawed Spain side to an unfortunate semi-final exit in Euro 2020.

Like many before him, Luis Enrique will take charge of a PSG side littered with concerns and reasons for caution. This is a squad quietly undergoing significant turnover. The Parisians have already lost Lionel Messi and Sergio Ramos, while Kylian Mbappe and Neymar could also leave. The manager will also have to deal without centre-back Presnel Kimpembe for most of the season.

Add to that a frustrated fan base, overbearing football director and awkwardly assembled squad, and the ex-Barca boss isn't necessarily inheriting a desirable job. Indeed, there is a reason that top target Julian Nagelsmann turned down the position. This isn't the must-have role that it really should be.

But there is reason to believe that Luis Enrique could make something happen here. He is an accomplished coach with the right personality to deal with the big names in the dressing room. He is also tactically flexible and a notable developer of youth talents. These are desirable qualities for a job with a very difficult remit.

That doesn't mean it will be easy, and he has real issues to address immediately. GOAL takes a look at the biggest problems the new PSG manager will face in the weeks and months ahead...

  1. Figure out a working formation

    Figure out a working formation

    So much of the way PSG have set up in the last two seasons had to account for the defensive limitations of Messi, Neymar and Mbappe. And it made sense, in a way. The trio were among the best attacking players in the world; asking them to expend any unnecessary energy was illogical. But the other seven outfield players were therefore forced to play in the name of damage limitation. It often meant both Christophe Galtier and Mauricio Pochettino deployed three solid central defenders, with hard-working midfielders ahead of them.

    But Luis Enrique certainly won't be burdened by Messi's shortcomings, and he might not have to worry about Mbappe or Neymar, either. It all points towards a rare opportunity for tactical flexibility in Paris.

    The new boss finds himself with a number of interesting players, including some bright young talent, and his past managerial jobs suggest he can set up sides in a multitude of ways. His 'MSN' Barcelona team were deadly on the brea while his Spain side strangled opponents by having so much of the ball.

    This PSG team, then, could be the next era, Luis Enrique's new style. Chances are, he will have the freedom to sort that all out.

  2. Reviving Neymar
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    Reviving Neymar

    It remains to be seen what a 31-year-old Neymar with a recovering ankle will bring to this PSG side. The Brazilian is still world-class on his day, and will certainly chip in with goals and assists — especially against the gentle competition that Ligue 1 has to offer.

    But how, exactly, he is used, is something for Luis Enrique to ponder. For the past few years, Neymar has played as a sort of attacking midfielder; a player who floats around, dribbles, passes, shoots and generally entertains. It hasn't always been conducive to his team's success, but certainly makes for a good watch.

    This is a coach brought in to win, though, and Luis Enrique has been here before with Neymar. The two had a good relationship at first during the Spaniard's Barcelona tenure, but soon fell out — with the Brazilian bolting for Paris before he had the chance to become the Blaugrana's sole star player.

    That understanding will need to be redeveloped and redefined, especially if Neymar is to be the one remaining player of the disappointing big three that defined PSG's shortcomings in recent times. Perhaps this will be a good thing. Neymar does not like power struggles, and he certainly is not one for adaptation. Maybe post-surgery Neymar is ready to be the undisputed star he never was under Luis Enrique at Barcelona. Either way, the manager will need to get the most out of his unreliable legs.

  3. Get fans back onside
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    Get fans back onside

    PSG's ultras aren't a group known for their restraint. They have repeatedly petitioned the ownership, and last year turned to open revolt against players and executives alike, even booing Messi toward the end of the campaign — a gesture that was met with criticism around the football world.

    They want a French manager who is willing to commit to the Parisian roots of the club, and ensure that the best players from the talent-rich area around France's capital wear the PSG shirt.

    This leaves Luis Enrique, a Spanish-born Spain international who has never played for or managed a Ligue 1 side, a tough task. Though his pedigree is impressive, and he will certainly get the Parisians playing some eye-catching stuff, he is not the type of manager the fans want.

    Perhaps only success will solve his problem, but he likely won't have too much wiggle room before the boos start raining around Parc des Princes.

  4. Make sense of a makeshift midfield
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    Make sense of a makeshift midfield

    There isn't much sense to PSG's midfield composition. The Parisians have a number of interesting options, but only one top-class player in the admittedly declining Marco Verratti. While they have made efforts to bolster their ranks by signing the promising Manuel Ugarte and are closing in on the creative Lee Kang-in none of the additions seem to suit Luis Enrique's possession-heavy style.

    Instead, he will have to find the balance in a group of misfits. Ugarte and Verratti seem to be certain starters, but deciding on a third or fourth individual to balance the system won't be easy.

    Perhaps there are more recruits to come, and Bernardo Silva is among those linked with a move. Still, just a few months ago, Luis Enrique had the likes of Gavi, Pedri, Thiago Alcantara and Rodri at his disposal. This is not a midfield of that quality, and will surely need work.

  5. Let the kids play
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    Let the kids play

    There is certainly talent to work with here. Warren Zaire-Emery's emergence was one of only a few bright spots amid what was a morbid 2022-23 campaign for the Parisians. The 17-year-old made 26 Ligue 1 appearances and was arguably his side's best midfielder for long stretches. There is obvious danger in putting complete faith in a player with just over 1,000 career minutes in elite football under his belt. Still, there isn't a more complete footballer of Zaire-Emery's age in world football.

    And he isn't the only promising youngster at Enrique's disposal. El-Chadaille Bitshiabu has immense potential as a centre-back while Ismael Gharbi has all the tools to become a top-class attacking midfielder. Meanwhile, 21-year-old Hugo Ekitike could thrive under the right manager.

    These are the types of players that PSG fans want to see on the pitch. And Luis Enrique, who handed Gavi his Spain debut before he had even reached double-figures for first-team appearances at Barca, could be the man to help them grow.

  6. Iron things out with Campos
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    Iron things out with Campos

    Does anyone at PSG seem to understand the hierarchy at the club? It seemed that football advisor Luis Campos was a package deal with Galtier, who he had worked with to great success at Lille. And with Galtier out the door, it only made sense that Campos would depart with him. Instead, the Portuguese has stayed on, and took over a solid chunk of PSG's summer transfer business without knowing who he was recruiting for.

    But that approach is only the beginning. Campos can be a famously difficult character to work with, something he showed towards the end of Galtier's tenure. The football advisor repeatedly undermined his manager in the press, and reportedly barged into the dressing room to berate the team at half-time of an embarrassing loss to Monaco.

    Now Luis Enrique will have to figure out how to keep him quiet — or at least let him speak at the right time. Campos is an excellent talent identifier and shrewd recruiter, and arguably the man best equipped to rebuild this PSG side. But he simply has to be on the same page as the manager who gets to coach it.

  7. Incoporate the new signings
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    Incoporate the new signings

    And what of the players who have already been brought in, Campos' unsanctioned recruits? There's certainly some talent there. Ugarte is highl- rated, while Marco Asensio on a free and Lucas Hernandez at a relatively friendly €50 million(£43m/$54m) are smart pieces of business. But Luis Enrique was the fourth-choice coach here. Thomas Tuchel and Julian Nagelsmann were both preferred candidates, and it is safe to assume that Campos wasn't initially building a team for the Spaniard.

    Instead, it is down to the new manager to sort out the new faces. These are all rather uncontroversial, relatively rigid additions. Asensio is a reliable winger; Ugarte is a hard-working midfielder; while Hernandez and Milan Skriniar are reliable centre-backs. All four could quite comfortably slot into any top European team with few qualms.

    Still, Luis Enrique probably has a few names of his own in mind. Every manager inherits new players, but most of them are signed by a former manager — not a director of football with unlimited power.

  8. Keep Mbappe happy (if he stays)
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    Keep Mbappe happy (if he stays)

    This is going to be an issue hanging over everything at PSG until Mbappe makes a decision. The striker has made it clear that he will leave the French champions at some point in the next 12 months. It is down to the club to decide whether they sell him now or let him walk after this season.

    They don't want to do either, and while none of this responsibility falls on Luis Enrique, the manager will certainly have to handle the fallout.

    If Mbappe stays for one more season — which could still happen — the coach will be expected to design a system that keeps the France captain happy. And that's no easy feat. Mbappe is a world-class footballer, who will score goals in pretty much any set-up. But to have Mbappe is a luxury that requires a shift in system, and comes with the expectation of winning.

    This is something that Luis Enrique is good at, but it remains to be seen whether he can appease the current star while also preparing for his inevitable exit.