Kylian Mbappe might be the odd man out in PSG, according to French football writer Philippe Auclair.
Auclair joined The Football Show's Joe Molloy on Thursday to discuss PSG's recent struggles.
While the team's results in the league have been fine, a 1-1 draw in the Champions League with Club Brugge and Lionel Messi's substitution has raised concerns. Auclair believes the problem with Mauricio Pochettino's team is that they can't play Pochettino's way.
To do so, they need to sacrifice one of their three attacking stars. With Mbappe already one foot out the door to Real Madrid, the political move would be him.
“Mbappe might be the disposable asset," he said.
"The relationship with the Parisian crowd is different because of what happened...it might be easier to [bench him]."
Despite all the attacking flair that PSG possesses, the quality of football they are playing is not good, according to Auclair.
“PSG just plays bad football, really bad football despite having a squad which...is possibly the strongest ever assembled by a French team in history.
They looked really, really bothered against Lyon. The midfield wasn't there. There was no protection whatsoever. There was acres of space for the Lyon creators to exploit, which they did very well indeed. And you're thinking that against a team that is a little bit more dangerous...surely they will pay the price for that lack of balance.
When you talk about Messi, you don't talk about that.”
Auclair recognizes that Mauricio Pochettino's team don't have a shape and lack the work rate to compete with the best teams in Europe.
“Neymar was doing what Neymar does, he doesn't really cover his defenders or midfield but he reacts and gets very angry when he loses the ball or if the team isn't doing well.
It's all not Pochettino-esque at all.
You have a huge problem."
Against Lyon at the weekend, PSG won the game but the performance was filled with problems. When it was 1-0 and 1-1, the Lyon midfielders, most notably Caqueret, were getting on the ball and finding 20 yards of space within the PSG half of the field. That set off alarm bells for Auclair.
"That shouldn't be happening.
If you see that your opponent is doing pretty much what they want 50 yards away from goal, are you going to push and try to pressurise them and get the ball back? No you're not going to do that because you know that the guys upfront are not going to do their job. They won't be in the right positions, they're not going to put in the necessary effort.
So what you're going to do is create yet more space between the lines and all it takes then is a ball through those lines and suddenly you've got those defenders in front of the attackers with absolutely no cover from the midfield.
You can't do that."
This style of performance runs completely counter to what has defined Pochettino's career and that's a huge problem.
"When we think of Pochettino...we tend to think of teams that are extremely proactive, that are energetic, apply high pressure, making things very difficult for their opponents. PSG is not doing that. PSG is making things difficult when they've got the ball...but there is this problem of imbalance which is not the typical Pochettino problem, but which he has to solve with the players at his disposal.
Are you going to leave one of those guys on the bench? How will you justify it?
You need to sacrifice a little bit of the sparkle to get some of the balance back. But to do that you have to leave one of those three players on the bench.”
Leaving Kylian Mbappe out will be an easier sell to the home fans because of his obvious desire to leave the club. Fans know that he would be playing for Real Madrid now had the offer come through during the Summer.
The argument against benching him is that he's one of the best players in the world. Pochettino has to figure out how to create a team that can facilitate those three stars rather than swapping in Angel Di Maria for his marginally improved work rate.
Optimistic PSG fans can look across the assembly of superstars that the Miami Heat put together when they signed Lebron James and Chris Bosh. They are a similar parallel where the weight of expectations led to awful performances early on before they figured it out and won two championships.
Pessimistic PSG fans can stay within their own sport, calling back to Zinedine Zidane's quote when Real Madrid sold Claude Makelele but kept their excess of attacking superstars, "Why do you need to add a gold layer on a Bentley, when you have already lost the engine?”
Is Kylian Mbappe now the gold layer and the concept of balance the engine?