Paris Saint-Germain youth academy players
Scouting reports on the best young players from PSG's academy
With direct access to a goldmine of local talent from the greater capital city region, Paris Saint-Germain have one of the most prolific academies in world football. Year after year, more and more high-level players emerge from the system which has already produced multiple French internationals.
Here are brief profiles on their emerging generation coming out of the PSG academy. Each cover their backgrounds, styles, strengths and weaknesses.
What is PSG's academy identity?
Paris Saint-Germain’s academy is predicated on local talent. In comparison to other elite clubs, they’ve hardly touched other markets (domestic and international) to sign the best young talent.
PSG have unrivalled access to Paris and the wider Île-de-France region, perhaps the hottest beds of talent in the world currently – along with Rio de Janeiro and London.
What are PSG's academy pathways?
Perhaps the biggest criticism of Paris Saint-Germain in the Qatar era is their failure, through incompetence and reluctance, to establish a pathway from academy to first-team.
Because of that, the majority of their home-grown talent leave the club at an early age. Adrien Rabiot & Presnel Kimpembe are the only academy players to become regular first-team starters in the past 10 years.
Who are PSG's best academy graduates?
PSG’s academy has produced countless high-level players. The best right now is probably Kingsley Coman, but there’s also Christopher Nkunku, Moussa Diaby, Ibrahima Konaté, Mike Maignan, and so on.
Of those still on PSG books, 2006-born Warren Zaire-Emery is one of the best players we’ve ever seen at youth level and he has since been fast-tracked to the senior squad.
What competitions do PSG's academy teams play in?
Paris Saint-Germain are a competitive force at underage level, but aren’t as dominant as their elite-level peers in other countries. They’re also regulars in the UEFA Youth League but haven’t won it yet, although they did reach the final in 2016 and have a strong chance this season.
PSG have only won the prestigious Coupe Gambardella – French football’s iconic under-19 tournament – once in their history, back in 1991.
Warren Zaïre-Emery burst onto the scene in last season’s UEFA Youth League. One of the revelations of the entire tournament, he was a standout in a Paris Saint-Germain midfield playing against players three years older than him. He similarly excelled at last summer’s UEFA U-17 European Championship, which France won.
His dominance at youth level meant PSG ad to fast-track him into the senior squad; he played a significant role in their pre-season and has since made his Ligue 1 debut, becoming the club’s youngest-ever debutant. Zaïre-Emery also signed his first professional contract too, signing through to 2025.
Warren Zaïre-Emery's style of play
Even at just 16 years old, there are no obvious flaws to Zaïre-Emery’s game. He is extremely advanced and rounded for his age in every aspect: physically, technically and tactically. His all-round ability is the outstanding feature of his style and skillset in the centre of midfield.
Zaïre-Emery contributes to every phase of play to a very high level in underage football. He progresses possession, builds attacks, breaks up play – he can even chip in with timely goals too. His rounded athletic profile enables him to contribute to those phases; he is strong and balanced, quick over ground and robust in contact.
His ball-carrying is a big facet of his game. Zaïre-Emery is very adept at spinning away from pressure before driving into space. Overall, the simplicity with which he makes impactful actions seem is indicative of a talent that has elite-level potential.
Warren Zaïre-Emery is an extremely rounded and mature player for his age. He contributes to every phase of play and does so with a high-level simplicity; his complete physical skillset underpins his game.
Zaïre-Emery has no fundamental flaws to his game, which is remarkable for a 16-year-old. The only points you could pick up on are: he can fade out of games at times and get too easily frustrated.
Moutanabi Bodiang is certainly one of the most interesting players in this current crop of Paris Saint-Germain academy players. Captaining the youth teams, the full-back can play on either flank, despite quite clearly being right-footed, and performs well in both positions, charging down the flank in a naturally aggressive fashion.
He has joined Le Puy Foot in the French third division on loan for the 2022/23 season.
Moutanabi Bodiang's style of play
While he plays both flanks, Bodiang’s natural position, as a right-footed player, is likely to end up being at right-back. But the versatility is an added bonus, of course.
But aside from that, from his station at right-back, Bodiang is a hard-working, super quick, aggressive player that is up and down the wing relentlessly for 90 minutes. He lacks as a progressive passer, but he does not lack as a ball-carrier, driving into space with purpose whenever he is given the opportunity.
His willingness to get into the final third is obvious, but his speed and engine ensure he is not neglecting his defensive duties either.
He is also quite good defensively when he is able to defend aggressively and on the front foot, although he needs to improve when forced to defend deep and in the box, where his concentration tends to wane.
Moutanabi Bodiang is a right-back that can also play at left-back. He has endless energy, manifesting in sharp movements and an excellent work rate. He gets up and down his flank constantly, making overlapping runs and biting into challenges.
Bodiang struggles to defend his won box at times, he is much better as a front-foot aggressor. His small stature could be a problem as he steps up to senior football as well.
Djeidi Gassama is a livewire that fits the mould of an increasingly important role and skillset at high-level clubs: the wide forward. Mauritanian by birth but French by upbringing after he moved to the country aged ten, Gassama was first spotted by Brest, before he then made the move to join Paris Saint-Germain.
He has joined Qatar-owned KAS Eupen on loan in the Belgian Pro League for the 2022/23 season.
Djeidi Gassama's style of play
Gassama can play on ball, but he is at his explosive best playing predominantly as an off-ball player. He is exceptionally good at finding himself in wide open spaces out on the left, and playing with team-mates with good vision, he can exploit those spaces with his direct running both with and without the ball.
There is a little bit of Monaco-era Kylian Mbappe about him. He can dribble and play with the ball, sure. But he is a devastating penalty area player from the left side of the box, where he can cut onto his favoured right foot.
Sure, he can be a little clunky and loose in possession, and needs to work on his combination play when the game slows down, but he has a frightening package to work with in the right system: especially one with a good creator up front in the mould of Xavi Simons in PSGs UEFA Youth League side.
Djeidi Gassama is a direct wide forward that has excellent straight-line speed. He is adept at finding dangerous spaces off the left wing, driving into them with intensity to pose a threat at goal.
Gassama can be quite clunky in his movements, moving best in straight lines. He also has trouble breaking down set defences, working better in transition attacks.
More academy player pages
PSG’s academy has produced a number of high-level players throughout the years, but especially in the past 5 or so. Christopher Nkunku and Moussa Diaby both came through their system, as did Liverpool’s Ibrahima Konaté, and Mike Maignan. PSG academy products are present at the highest levels.
Warren Zaïre-Emery is the best, a special talent born in 2006 that has elite-level potential. Other strong emerging players include Ayman Kari, El Chadaille Bitshiabu and Ilyes Housni.