During this week’s Champions League match between Paris Saint-Germain and AC Milan, the French club will have the opportunity to compete against one of the many brilliant talents that they have let to escape their grasp in recent years.
Mike Maignan, who was permitted to leave Paris for Lille in 2015 and has since gone on to win a title in Ligue 1, Serie A, and become France’s first-choice custodian, will be playing in goal for the Italian team.
PSG, on the other hand, rotated through a large number of different goalkeepers before acquiring Gianluigi Donnarumma from Milan in 2021 and promoting him to the position of indisputable number one the following season.
But would it have been wiser for the Qatar-backed team to have put their faith in a young Maignan rather than going from Salvatore Sirigu and Kevin Trapp to Gianluigi Buffon, Alphonse Areola, Keylor Navas, and then Donnarumma in their pursuit of the Champions League championship?
At the age of 28, Maignan has established himself as one of the best goalkeepers in the world. He will serve as Milan’s final line of defence against his teammates in France, Kylian Mbappe, Ousmane Dembele, and Randal Kolo Muani, in a game that will determine the winner of Group F.
Maignan is ready to make his comeback for Milan after serving a suspension that required him to miss the team’s 1-0 loss to Juventus on Sunday in the Serie A matchup. So far in the group, Maignan has posted two clean sheets in draws with Newcastle United and Borussia Dortmund.
“It is always a strange feeling to go back home, whether that be to Lille or Paris,” stated Maignan while on duty in France the previous week. “Home” may refer to either Lille or Paris.
Due to an injury, he was unable to compete in the World Cup last year, but since Hugo Lloris’ retirement, he has emerged as France’s top custodian.
“It causes one to reflect on times gone by. During my time at Lille, I had the opportunity to compete against PSG. The event in question is the Champions League. There will be a very pleasant environment. There will be members of my family there. It is imperative that I keep my attention on the tasks at hand and not let my feelings get the better of me.
In recent months, a lot of attention has been directed at Paris Saint-Germain’s failure to win the Champions League, despite the fact that the club’s Qatari owners have been following a strategy that involves spending a lot of money to buy superstar players.
In the meantime, they have not really paid much attention to the youthful talent that is right outside their door in the fertile football breeding grounds of the Paris region.
With the departures of Lionel Messi and Neymar and the emergence of promising French talents like Dembele, who is from Normandy, and Kolo Muani, who is from the same Paris district as Mbappe, a conscious attempt has been made to shift the approach.
It was not just Maignan that they released during the course of the past decade; Kingsley Coman, Adrien Rabiot, Christopher Nkunku, and Moussa Diaby all decided to pursue their careers in other places.
In addition to Maignan, the Milan side that will face PSG could contain Yacine Adli, a playmaker who was born in the suburbs of Paris but left his local team after making just one appearance for the top team. Adli is 23 years old.
Since Maignan departed PSG eight years ago, the club has only been victorious in four two-legged knockout matches in the Champions League.
In the post-game interview from the previous year, Maignan was asked what he thought about PSG being eliminated from the competition by Bayern Munich. In response, he stated, “That means nothing to me.”
Having lost 4-1 away to Newcastle three weeks ago, a failure to win the “Rossoneri” on Wednesday would increase the chance of Luis Enrique’s side not getting out of their group. This would be catastrophic for a club with PSG’s goals, as it would mean the club would not be able to advance to the knockout stage.
PSG has lost money in recent years due to questionable recruitment decisions, such as permitting a 20-year-old player named Maignan to join Lille for a reported one million euros ($1.1m) in 2015 despite the fact that he had never played for a top-level team.
Maignan was just eight years old when his family made the migration from French Guiana to continental France. Maignan was born in French Guiana. In 2009, he became a member of the PSG youth programme.
As they have done with other players in the past, PSG essentially kicked him off the team. You have to wonder what the club’s policy is’, Bernard Lama, a former custodian for Paris and France, said in an interview earlier this year with the sports newspaper L’Equipe.
They ought to have made him available to Lille on loan. If he sticks out, you should bring him back rather than going out and buying someone else and risking making the wrong choice.