Interviews

Pauleta: 'Not sure I would have been a starter in this PSG'

Publish on 24/07/2020 at 12:00

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ADS The best system for PSG, the use of Kylian Mbappé, his opinion on André Villas-Boas and his news... Interview with former Portuguese international Pedro Miguel Pauleta, a PSG and Bordeaux legend.

What do you think of PSG's attacking play?
Today PSG are fortunate to have a lot of players who can make a difference at any time. There's Mbappé, Neymar, Icardi, Di Maria... They're players who score a lot and can make the difference in any match. It's really great for Paris to have so much quality up front, it's huge.

Parisian coach Thomas Tuchel has mainly lined his team up in a 4-4-2. Is that the system that suits this PSG best?
When I was a player, I preferred 4-4-2. When you're a forward, a real number 9, it's easier to have someone playing close to you in front. With the quality of PSG's forwards, it doesn't matter what system they use. What really counts is how you behave when you lose the ball. If the 4 attacking players are capable of having the right mentality and being rigorous defensively, I don't see why PSG couldn't play that way. It is necessary for all the players to make the effort. You just have to look at how Liverpool, who won the last Champions League, work. All the attacking players run, it's huge. At PSG, there's as much quality as at Liverpool. The players just have to make the effort when they lose the ball.

Today's PSG number 9 has an obligation to score

Is it harder to score when there are so many attacking players of that quality on the pitch at the same time?
There are chances for everyone. Given all the opportunities PSG get in a game, it's almost impossible to finish without scoring. When you play with 4 attacking players of this quality, you're bound to have one or two who will score a goal. Still, you can't afford to miss when you have a chance.

Since signing for PSG, Kylian Mbappé has played on the wing in a 4-3-3, through the middle in a 4-3-3 and up front in a 4-4-2. Where do you prefer him?
He can play any position up front. I don't know what his preference is, but if he plays alone up front, he'll probably score a lot of goals. That will also be the case coming from the left side. It all depends on the system. In a 4-3-3, I put him on the left side. In a 4-4-2, I put him up front of course, with another striker.

In your most prolific season with PSG, in 2005-06, you scored 29 goals in 44 games in all competitions. How many goals would you have scored with the current PSG?
I'm not sure if I would even have been a starter! Today's PSG number 9 is obliged to score. PSG create so many chances in a match that the current PSG centre-forward, whoever he is, has to score. It's true that I scored a lot of goals with Bordeaux and Paris, but that was a different era. Football is different and so is the quality of PSG's players, so it's hard to know. But surely I would have scored a lot of goals, at least as many as during my most prolific season with Paris.

'André Villas-Boas is doing a great job'

Do you still follow the Girondins' news closely?
Of course I do. I follow Bordeaux, like all the clubs I played for. I really like Paulo Sousa, who's a friend. When I arrived in the Portugal squad, he was already there. But I had met him a few years earlier, when I was 15. I had a trial at Benfica and Paulo was part of the youth academy. He has a lot of charisma and he's very intelligent. As a coach, he's very strong. But the conditions in Bordeaux are not the same as in Paris.

There's another Portuguese coach in France: André Villas-Boas. Did you expect him to have such a successful season with OM?
He's a confirmed coach, a great coach. He has a very good image in Portugal, where he is associated with FC Porto, the club he supports and with which he has a very strong bond. In fact, he said he wanted to be president of FC Porto one day. His work is highly respected. Everybody knows that he has worked well since he was José Mourinho's assistant. Today there is a great Portuguese coaching school of which André is a member. He has done a great job with Marseille despite limited resources and not so many recruits. OM made a very good choice in hiring André.

Finally, tell us about your news...
I am ambassador of the Paris Saint-Germain Academy. The club has opened academies all over the world to develop the PSG brand. There are academies in Brazil, Morocco, the Netherlands, Russia, Turkey, Germany, Portugal... I've been to almost every country in the world. I also organise exchanges between the children of PSG and those of my foundation in the Azores.