Serge Aurier: Battling for His Place at PSG
1st August 2016. By Edward Stratmann.
After enduring a 2016 littered with controversy, Serge Aurier’s got a lot of making up to do in order to regain the faith of his PSG teammates and the club’s supporters.
All his troubles began in February when an ill-advised live question-and-answer session on Periscope surfaced that showed him making derogatory comments against the coach at the time, Laurent Blanc, and some of his colleagues, including star men Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Angel Di Maria. A subsequent six match ban rightfully followed and the 23-year-old was forced to issue an apology. It read: “I want to apologise especially to the coach, I can only thank him for all he has done for me since I arrived in Paris. He wanted me and since I came here everything has gone really well. I owe him a lot and that is why I apologise sincerely to him for what was said, which I deeply regret.”
“I will accept any sanction the club impose on me regarding this incident. I made a mistake, it was unforgivable and I am ready to face all the consequences.”
Many thought he’d learned his lesson, but then, in May, Aurier was involved in another altercation, where he allegedly verbally assaulted Police after a night out with friends in Paris, which led to him being arrested and placed into custody overnight.
With Unai Emery, the three time Europa League winning coach at Sevilla, taking over the managerial reigns from Blanc at PSG, Aurier is definitely looking to turn over a new leaf and repay the Parisien outfit’s faith in him.
To the former Toulouse sensation’s credit, however, it would’ve been far easier for him to leave amid all this turmoil, but his decision to battle through and stay put is admirable. Club President, Nasser Al-Khelaifi, who has a special relationship with the player, didn’t want the talented defender to leave, and his belief and trust in Aurier was absolutely crucial in him remaining with Les Rouge-et-Bleu.
“I did it for my president because I’m well aware that he considers me like his son,” Aurier said.
“If I really want to stay at PSG, it’s for him — if it only depended on me, I would have already left.”
Aurier’s made a terrific start on his road to redemption, as he’s enjoyed a hugely encouraging start to preseason. This was perfectly illustrated in PSG’s recent 3-1 thrashing of Inter Milan, where the Ivorian scored two goals in a man of the match performance.
Operating in his usual right-back role, his all-round contribution was immense, with his physical qualities shining through especially brightly. The sheer strength of Aurier sees him able to easily outmuscle his opponents, and Inter’s two men on the left, Yuto Nagatomo and Caner Erkin, both regularly bore the brunt of his overwhelming dominance in this regard.
Combined with his incredible leap to win aerial duels and balance on the ground to keep his feet in 1v1 battles, and it was little wonder the Nerazzurri found him a such hugely challenging adversary.
Scoring two well taken goals, the first a great reflex finish from a Hatem Ben Arfa free kick and the second a wonderful glancing header, would’ve done his confidence a world of good. But this wasn’t his only contribution on the attacking end, for he provided plenty of attacking thrust and width down the right. Moreover, his passing proficiency saw him play an integral role for his side in keeping possession and generating openings for teammates.
Alongside Lucas Moura, his partner in crime down left, the duo were a constant source of menace to the Nerazzurri who had great difficulty neutralising the dynamic duo all game long. Their cohesion and understanding was indeed a major positive looking ahead to the new season.
Aurier’s rival for the right-back spot, new signing Thomas Meunier, is putting a strong case together of his own for the starting spot, however, as he too snagged two goals in PSG’s 3-1 triumph over Real Madrid last this week. At this juncture, though, Aurier’s probably just ahead in the pecking order, but he’ll have to keep his high level up if he wants to guarantee he secures the starting job.
After a tumultuous first half of 2016, it’s terrific to see that the formidable fullback has now recalibrated his focus and is back to a level that resembles his awesome best.
The challenge will now be to keep his head out of trouble and let his football do all the talking.
More Interesting Football Blog Articles From Edward.