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Red Bull In Paris : RB Paris

Started on 13 November 2020 by OohAhCantona
Latest Reply on 8 May 2021 by TheLFCFan

A promotion to the Champions League after a decent run in the Europa League set a number of things in motion that would drastically change the look of RB Paris. Patrice Evra and Thomas Linke had to make some hard choices while making a massive bet on their youth system that could either destroy their progress or set them up for additional success.

To be blunt, this offseason started with a cleanout as Linke kept players key to their future and shed those who aren’t through transfers or expiring contracts. The key players would be handed long deals with improved terms, but thanks to some additional issues they would be left with a serious depth issue at the right wing. The additional issue would actually boil down to a single player, Rasmus Rasmussen, and generate some cracks in the manager-general manager relationship.

With new contracts being handed out all over Rasmussen decided to make some extravagant salary demands, it didn’t help that RB Paris was getting offers for him from big clubs that Rasmussen wanted the club to accept. Rasmussen took things public and things started to get really messy in the media, it didn’t help that Mino Raiola was involved and that just made things so much worse for the club. In the span of two weeks the player would reject an improved contract offer, reiterate his desire to be sold, have RB Paris management accept a €26M from Derby County despite protests from Evra, and end up agreeing to a €29M move to Sheffield United. Inside sources report that Evra was very upset with the Derby County agreement, it would be the first time the club would go over his head on a senior transfer, most analysts agree that Rasmussen should be worth much more than the agreed fee. The only consolation was Sheffield United agreeing to a 40% sell-on fee and no add-ons, reports are the Derby County fee was for €19M and needed a number of add-ons to get to €26M.

Rasmussen was a big loss, but it was the remainder of the transfers that would concern fans. Moving along Greg Docherty and Benito would go down very poorly, but they were tough business decisions that had to be made. There was no way the club was going to lock them in for another 3-4 years with so many talented youngsters coming up or ready to step into the first squad. While losing senior squad members is never fun, Linke managed some massive wins with contract extensions.

The biggest win was locking up CAM Younes Boussif with a five-year deal worth €6K a week, once an unthinkable sum for RB Paris, the deal reportedly includes a hefty Team Of The Year bonus thought to be around €150K. Linke struck gold again and again with the 5-year deals once Boussif was on board. LB Kévin Blanc (€4K/week), CM Youssef Camara (€8K/week), CF Mauro Amorim (€6K/week), and LW Octávio Martinho (€3.5K/week) would all join on 5-year deals to solidify the squad for quite some time. The only bump in the road was with RB Danny Malitoli as the two parties struggled to agree on years. Malitoli wanted a massive pay upgrade, something the club was willing to do, but not on a short term basis. Malitoli had demanded to be sold to a bigger club in January, but since he’s already under contract through 2026 his demands fell on deaf ears. There are reports that RB Paris were looking for €60M in a sale with a number of big-name clubs showing interest, but the only offers that came in were from small clubs offering €6-10M.

The window closed out with some small losses for Linke and Evra as RB Paris has a ways to go before they can compete on the transfer market. The first reminder of their place came when the club agreed to buy exciting Spanish RW José Luis Areso from Elche for a paltry €3.1M. With Rasmussen and Benito leaving it looked like Areso would move right into the starting lineup with the opportunity to play in the Champions League, but in the end Areso rejected the move. That disappointment was followed by a failure to sell Abner Felipe, the club reportedly tired of his contract complaints, instead finding a loan move to rid them of his influence on the locker room. Jean Marcelin followed up that episode with a wild demand to double his wages to €44K/week, thanks to a pitiful transfer offer by Fulham, but he’s already locked up through 2027 so he ended up getting nothing.

The loss of Rasmussen and the failure to sign Areso pushed the club into being very aggressive at RW. Luckily for them Atalanta was willing to part with Daniele Esposito, RB Paris seem to think he could be a future star but the Italian side were willing to part with him for a reasonable fee. Some snooping around at Barcelona landed them Jaume Jardí, a player who has almost no chance of getting into their senior squad, a quick fix at RW behind Esposito gives Evra some time to figure out what to do at RW.

Senior / Major Transfers (Out)
Rasmus Rasmussen (RW, Sheffield United) €29M
Pierluigi Pinto (CB, Brentford) €3.6M
Diego Raposo (CM, FC Lorient) €3.2M
Benito (RW, KV Mechelen) €2.1M
Greg Docherty (CM, FC Lorient) €1.4M
Kemehlo Nguena (CM, US Créteil-Lusitanos) €56K
Abner Felipe (LB, Valenciennes) Loan

Senior Transfers (In)
Daniele Esposito (RW, Atalanta) €8.5M
Jaume Jardí (RW, Barcelona) €150K

Final Transfer List (Impact Signings)
Maurice Passlack (RW, Bayer 04 Leverkusen - Germany) €4.8M
Zivorad Kitic (GK, Crvena Zvezda - Serbia) €2M
Stevan Stojanovic (RW, Crvena Zvezda - Serbia) €1.3M
Ivan Dukic (CF, Crvena Zvezda - Serbia) €1.3M
Maxence Christ (GK, Virton - Belgium) €525K
Ayanda Ratmalo (CM, Sundowns - South Africa) €500K
Zaheer Skippers (CAM, Sundowns - South Africa) €300K
Wilfried Doumbia (CM, Atlantis FC - Ivory Coast) Free

This crop of youth prospects could be one of the biggest wins in club history, looking at some of these players makes it easy to forget the stress of cleaning out the senior squad. A raiding party at Crvena Zveda brought in three solid Serbians with RW Stevan Stojanovic being the most exciting, Stojanovic can play both wings so he could be fast tracked through the youth system and find himself as a valuable bench option. Scouts are most excited about CAM Zaheer Skippers, who came over for almost nothing, and RW Maurice Passlack who many think could be the next big name out of Germany. Passlack is just fifteen, but many who have seen him play think he could make the senior squad very quickly. Evra will need to make due at RW this year, but the future on the right looks to be very bright.

Patrice Evra would partially get his wish, with so many new and young players in the squad there was a feeling that too much travel would only make things harder on everyone. The compromise appears to have been a trip to Switzerland that would help the team concentrate on the season ahead while getting their name out there. The team mostly ended up skiing, bringing back a bunch of emmentaler, and more than a few unfortunate pictures with Swiss maids. All of this turned out to be a bit of a tradeoff as the club scheduled some big names for friendlies, all being played in Paris, but the French Football Association decided to have the Trophée des Champions in Côte d'Ivoire. With PSG winning Ligue 1 and the Coupe de France it would fall on second place RB Paris to make the long flight to Abidjan.

Training camp went well, almost too well, as the team managed to avoid any serious injuries. With so many fresh faces fighting for a place in the squad it was important for Evra to assess players without injuries forcing players forward or holding others back. The general health of the squad likely helped them to a series of very promising results, the preseason isn’t a good indication of the rest of the year but they did well against potential Champions League matchups.

Their first friendly against European giants Real Madrid went as well as anyone could have hoped. RW Daniele Esposito would score his first goal for RB Paris in a 3-0 win, all of them coming late in the game after grinding down the tired visitors. A 5-0 demolition of OGC Nice would be a nice treat before a dour 1-0 loss to Barcelona. Ronald Koeman’s Catalan squad would show their quality, making short work of Evra’s side, and more importantly they would get a good look at RB Danny Malitoli. Evra would have preferred not to lose, but he definitely would have wanted to avoid to media attention heaped on Malitoli with Barcelona reportedly interested in him.

“No comment. I do not discuss transfer rumors, we don’t talk about what could be. Go ask them, ask Ronald.” Evra was visibly annoyed by any and all questions about transfers, they didn’t get much else out of Koeman but he did praise Malitoli’s skill and refused to deny their interest.

A 6-1 rout of SL Benfica closed out the “tour” for a very encouraging result before the trip to Abidjan. The Trophée des Champions would turn out to be the most stressful event of the summer, Evra would finally need to deal with an injury that would end the hopes of one youngster for the time being. Azeri RB Rauf Äliyev, competing for a bench spot with two other players, would pull a knee ligament and be ruled out for two weeks. The injury would see him sent to RB Paris 2 and hand the bench spot to Spanish youngster Unai Martín. Äliyev is likely to be back up if someone is injured or if Malitoli is sold, at least he wasn’t forced to travel to the game.

The newly completed Stade National would play host to Evra’s ongoing nightmare with PSG.

The game itself turned out to be quite exciting but left Evra and RB Paris fans much aggrieved. Stade National de la Côte d'Ivoire would be filled mostly with people in PSG blue and red, even the locals were heavily biased toward the perennial Ligue 1 champions. Two first half goals from Neymar and a 32’ goal from Esposito would see PSG up 2-1 at the half, but it would be the second half that would have Evra howling. Two goals, one from Mauro Amorim and one from Aliou Traoré, would be disallowed for spurious reasons to deny RB Paris a much deserved 3-2 lead. Traoré would rescue the game with a stoppage time goal that would send the game to penalties at 2-2. RB Paris’ history in penalty shootouts is not good, and this time it didn’t get any better. Evra’s side would take PSG down to the fifth kick, with youngster Youssouf Camara on the spot. Gerónimo Rulli would get the better of Camara and block his attempt for a 5-4 win in penalties. Evra would be seen talking angrily to the officials as they walked down the tunnel, the game wasn’t all that important but they should have been the ones lifting a trophy.

This season is going to be one of Patrice Evra’s most difficult as a manager. The challenges of the Champions League are one thing, but his roster is going to push his man management skills to the test thanks to a flood of youth players. In terms of talent the club thinks this could be the best squad yet, but that is mostly based on potential that Evra will need to work hard to unlock. RB Paris has always had a bit of an issue with team leadership when it came to the players, but this year will be one of the worst. There aren’t any players you would call a leader, probably due to the oldest non-loan player being just 23 years-old, and the most influential squad members aren’t really the type to be great mentors. Demetre Buliskeria and Jean Marcelin suddenly find themselves as the elder statesman, but they weren’t tap ins for an arm band.

When the preseason wrapped up Evra ended up handing the armbands to players who have incredible upside but little experience. CM Youssouf Camara would be named Captain with CAM Younes Boussif named Vice-Captain, both of them certainly have the personality to be leaders down the road and should be in Paris for years to come. There was some talk of RB Danny Malitoli being named Captain, but his desire to leave made it an easier choice for Evra.

There are so many new faces, but Evra will be spoiled with the depth on hand. He has good reason to feel good about handling the workload of Ligue 1 and the Champions League. Buliskeria returns in goal, but he will not be starting 50+ games again even if it hurts the team’s chances when he sits. Jocelyn Bailly gets the call as Buliskeria’s backup, he will likely play only in the Coupe de France but the team is hopeful he will develop quickly as a solid backup option. Jean Marcelin and Zoltán Tadić are now the starting pair at CB and should be a solid foundation for Evra’s defense, Tadić has quickly become one of the team’s best players as well as a fan favorite. Backing them up are Luyolo Tambo, Bruno Rodrigues and Bartomeu Marcos, Tambo is seen as a future option to replace Marcelin and could be even better than the tall Frenchman. The way Evra uses wingbacks is driving the number of players in the squad, he doesn’t have another Franco but he might not need one with all the depth available. Malitoli is the unquestioned starter on the right with Dennis Waidner holding off Unai Martín to keep the second squad spot though Martín will likely see the field quite a bit off the bench. LB was a battle this preseason but Kévin Blanc managed to hold off Franco for the honor, this season could be his chance to make waves as a French international. Dalibor Uzelac ends up coming off the bench, but Evra may give him starts over Franco since Franco’s ability to play both sides is so valuable off the bench.

The midfield is an embarrassment of youth riches for Evra, this squad may have all the talent in the world if handled correctly. Camara is now the starter at deep lying playmaker with Hans-Günter Reus moving from the bench to second squad starter. Gabriel Henrique has been thrust into the starting lineup as the box-to-box midfielder in the double pivot with Richard Bessières taking the second squad. This is probably the weakest point of the midfield with so few players able to handle the BBM role, Bessières is seen as having a much higher ceiling but Gabriel Henrique is seen as the more dependable option for now. Bessières will be breathing down his neck all year and could find himself the starter soon. Jakob Demmer is the bench option for both, he’s very young but versatile enough to make the squad. Boussif now has CAM all to himself with fans rapidly falling in love with the Algerians ability to drive Evra’s attack, some have compared him to Zenedine Zidane thanks to playing the No. 10 and his Algerian nationality but he’s likely closer to a Bruno Fernandes or Pedri at Barcelona. His backups could compete with the BBM for thinnest position depth, Thomas Dann is the preferred starter but Juninho could find himself in the second squad if Dann doesn’t perform well enough. The two fought hard but Juninho’s ability to play CAM and in the double pivot make him a valuable bench option, something Evra has learned to rely on with so many games to maneuver through.

This group of forwards could make or break RB Paris’ season, this is one of the few groups where the squad made some questionable decisions on promotions. The club feels really good about starting RW Daniele Esposito and hope he can be the long term solution there, behind him it’s a little murkier on the long term viability. Jaume Jardí spent six years bouncing between Barcelona’s B and senior squads without making a single start for the senior team. RB Paris are taking a gamble on him with the second squad, there is hope that a change of scenery and some starts will unlock his potential, at this point he’s their only real option. Argélico is a very exciting prospect that Evra has been happy to use off the bench at times, but there are some fears that his development has stalled since coming over from Grêmio. A loan stint might be a better option, but RB Paris don’t have anyone else they can call up. At LW Aliou Traoré remains the starter, but there are growing concerns that he didn’t manage to improve on his (16) goals in the 2021-22 season. Evra doesn’t have much choice with even fewer options behind him, Pablo Sultuane has beaten out Octávio Martinho for the second squad spot but things are going to get tough if Traoré misses a significant amount of time. There are rumors the club feels Sultuane will be better than Traoré in a few years, but for now they just need to hope for rapid growth.

With the Manchester United loan pipeline turned off the central forward role is all Mauro Amorim’s, after scoring (14) goals for the second squad last year the club has high hopes for their Mozambican striker. He has the speed and finishing ability to become the club’s best ever at the position, though the bar is pretty low at this point in their history, but even with that level of confidence in his ability he may have some serious competition breathing down his neck. Dragan Jovetić was signed on a free transfer out of San Martín RA in Spain and the Montenegrin would go on to score (15) goals on loan at FC Rouen as a 16 year-old last year. That performance really turned some heads and earned him a slot in the preseason camp, there wasn’t much competition for the second squad striker spot but Jovetić made it much easier on Evra. The ceiling for these two is incredibly high, but with so little to go on so far their floor could be lower than anyone might think.

One area of this squad that is going to be a major pain is penalties. Once again Evra is fielding a squad with few exceptional takers, but this year it’s even worse. The best takers are defenders, with Uzelac likely the best of the worst. Boussif and Amorim are going to spend a lot of time practicing and should start the year as the primary takers, but getting into a penalty shootout is going to be a major problem for RB Paris. They did well enough in the Trophée des Champions but that will probably be an outlier for this team.

Surprise, the media has picked PSG to win Ligue 1 yet again. Despite some roster turnover manager Thomas Tuchel maintains the strongest squad in the country with a chance to be one of the best in Europe. The big news of the summer was the mind blowing sale of Kylian Mbappé to Liverpool for €238M. Most teams would have been devastated by the loss of a player like Mbappé, but team President Nasser Al-Khelaifi went out and spent heavily to maintain their insane level of talent and depth. Milan Skrinar (€107M), Myron Boadu (€80M), Fedor Chalov (€48M) and Adnan Janiuzaj (€43M) all made the trip to Paris over the summer. The fact that they could spend €43M on a backup RW is proof of how much farther ahead of the competition they are, especially in France. Neymar, Marquinhos, Mauro Icardi, Fabián, Samuel Umtiti, Gabriel Jesus, and Gerónimo Rulli remain for the best core in France. They even added Belgian wonderkid Daniël Vranken to the mix at CAM, at just 18 years-old he could be the future of their midfield.

Lyon find themselves in a group of teams picked to finish second to fourth but still find themselves miles and miles behind PSG. It’s a sad comment on the state of Ligue 1 when many consider Lyon to be the second best as things have not gone well for the club since Rudi Garcia was sacked. They have the advantage of one of the best rosters outside of Paris, but their coaching situation continues to waste the talent on hand. Julien Stéphan inherits a club that finished 3rd last year with plenty of pressure to make it to second place, getting pipped by RB Paris in the final month of last year didn’t look good. Victor Osimhen continues to be their best player and primary source of goals, and Houssem Aouar has managed to avoid the swirling transfer rumors to remain in midfield. Bruno Guimarães and Evander are still around to solidify the midfield with Anthony Lopes, Victor Fischer, and Stanley Nsoki rounding out the core of the squad. The club also sports some very promising youth players like Austrian striker Yusuf Demir, Gaël Nsombi, Titouan Thomas, and Baptiste Menozzi.

Filippo Inzaghi is still in charge of LOSC Lille as the club has become firm favorites to finish third, finally passing Marseille in talent. Boubakary Soumaré remains their best player with Elisha Owusu, Morgan Sanson, Mykhaylo Mudryk, Renato Sanches, and Tin Jedvaj rounding out the core of their roster. The €4.7M addition of César Gelabert from Real Madrid has added some punch to their attack at RW.

Can Inzaghi continue building toward the top of the league?

AS Monaco and Marseille form a dumpster fire tier of clubs picked to finish near the top of the table based on sheer talent. Niko Kovač was fired after AS Monaco finished 6th, replacing him is former SCO Angers manager Mehmed Bazdarevic. He still has Alexander Golovin, Gelsin Martins, Jorge, and Davinson Sanchez to help him out but this club is moving in the wrong direction quickly. Davie Selkie, Agustin Urzi, Nicolás De La Cruz, and Gérson round out the roster of veterans but this clubs is starting to fall behind everyone else. Alain Moussaki, a 19 year-old Congolese wingback, was a favorite of RB Paris’ scouts and looks to be a future star at AS Monaco. Marseille is an even bigger mess that Christophe Pélissier will need to work hard to clean up. He was appointed half way through last season after Jean-Louis Garcia resigned, it’s mostly rumors but an ongoing argument with club management combined with lackluster results are believed to be behind his abrupt departure. They lack the talent of the teams listed above them and the ones around are getting a little too old to be in their prime. Maxime Lopez, Duje Caleta-Car, Serge Aurier, Andreas Periera, and Berat Djimsiti make up their veteran core. They probably have just enough depth to be competitive, but without some investment they can only dream about finishing in the Top 4.

Strasbourg and RB Paris are picked to finish 6th & 7th, possibly insulting to the Red Bulls considering they finished 2nd last year and might even be better this year. The number of young players on RB Paris has made the media and books a little squeamish, so Strasbourg got the nod to finish above them. Santiago Solari took Strasbourg to 7th last year, just (10) points back of AS Monaco, with Sikou Niakaté, Ángel González, Ibou Sissoko, and Matz Sels forming the core of this squad. They have a few youth players ready to step up in a meaningful way, but overall they probably represent a “best of the rest” tier of Ligue 1. RB Paris have experienced a massive leap in expectations after finishing 2nd, reports are they are expected to qualify for the Europa League and make a good showing in the Champions League.

Will Cuisance be able to keep Stade Rennais up?

The rest of the league is a muddle outside of the clubs picked to finish in the relegation zone. Amiens SC, Ligue 2 champions, are low hanging fruit for demotion along with promotion winner FC Lorient. Stade Rennais also find themselves in trouble after coming back up from Ligue 2, they have yet to recover from selling off all of their talent but they made a big bet this summer in an attempt to remain in Ligue 1. The €14.5M purchase of Mickaël Cuisance from Bayern Munich is paired with some very talented youth players in Moise Diaby, Mohamed M'Ramboini, and Jérémy Villemin. They have a really good chance of staying up if those players pan out. Rounding out the rest of the relegation battle is Dijon FCO and Toulouse FC.

The long flight back from Côte d'Ivoire would give Patrice Evra plenty of time to think about the loss to PSG, there would be only three games to play in August as Ligue 1 started before a very long September. Evra would also be blessed by an easy start to the league with three teams that would be thrilled with avoiding relegation, his youngsters would have a little time to find some form before the Champions League started to take its toll.

As things turned out, the softer cushion to start the season would be much appreciated. Calling the way RB Paris defended against Toulouse FC “crap” would be an insult to crap, the team looked like they were still jet lagged a week after the Trophée des Champions loss. In the end a 4-3 win would result from one of the most disjointed performances in some time, Zoltán Tadić and Gabriel Henrique would look awful up the middle as Toulouse FC’s Algerian wonderkid striker Nabil Boukabache would have the game of his life. Outside of Tadić heading in the opener at 13’ he would be a liability with Boukabache making him look like a statue, luckily for Evra Mauro Amorim and Aliou Traoré would each score in the first half to head into the break up 3-2. Amorim nearly had a second just before the half, but the crossbar was on Toulouse’s side and things got messy in the second half. A driving rain would plague the remainder of the game with the ball slogging around the field and making things almost impossible for RB Paris. Danny Malitoli would connect with Traoré a second time at 77’ to put them ahead 4-3 for good. If it’s possible to have a bad win, this was it.

The media were quick to jump on Evra after the game, just one down and a win at that and people were calling the squad changes a mistake. Either a good hairdryer treatment, getting dragged by the media, or a little more rest seemed to do the trick. A trip to FC Nantes would end in a 5-1 win that started out looking like trouble. Allowing an early goal on a set piece would level it 1-1 before RB Paris would go on a 4-0 tear in the second half. Tadić would knock in two off corners to take the scoring lead for the team, outside of Tadić all of the goals so far have come from forwards or Younes Boussif on the attack. Having forwards do the heavy lifting would be a good sign, being able to do this all season could be a huge boost in all competition.

One week later, the vultures would be circling around Evra after a performance to rival the 4-3 win over Toulouse FC. The offensive explosion against FC Nantes would rapidly vanish in the rear view mirror as RB Paris went right back to struggling on defense as Evra would watch his club collapse in situations they would normally be expected to handle. Free kicks, really all set pieces in general, continue to be a weak point for Evra with no immediate answer in sight.

“I have to take responsibility for this, it’s the only thing that makes sense. I’m the constant since coming here, not the players. I need to find out a way to fix this.” Evra quickly took the blame for the team failing to improve in an area that has been a problem for years.

RB Paris would control Sochaux, but they just couldn’t convert that into goals. Things turned sour heading into the half down 1-0 off a Sochaux corner, RB Paris looked so lost it was almost as if they weren’t even on the field. The home crowd would only be frustrated for a short time after the break with Kévin Blanc and Traoré scoring at 55’ and 62’ to ease into a 2-1 lead. It looked as though RB Paris had found a way through Sochaux down the left, Traoré’s goal coming off a classic back post shot served in perfectly by Malitoli and Blanc left alone outside the box with ample time to shoot. The game rolled into stoppage time with Evra looking like he’d pulled this one out before a second corner would leave him speechless and end the game 2-2. Poorly defended games were having their results move in the wrong direction, if this pattern continues the next one will be a losing effort.

RB Paris eagerly awaits the Champions League draw, having a non-PSG European giant come visit Paris will be a big moment for fans.

Offensive genius, defensive... Well, garbage.
That Mbappe sale is mental, but no shock they spent big and bought in some top talent. It's probably not been the ideal start to the season, but Evra deserves trust to be placed in him for the past few years.

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