You could be forgiven at forging the opinion that Paris Saint-Germain’s player of the season thus far emanates in the attacking third of the pitch. Javier Pastore, Nene, Kevin Gameiro and Jeremy Menez have all had their spells of brilliance at the Parc des Princes, but they have been somewhat overshadowed by the man in between the sticks, Salvatore Sirigu.
The Italian international has well and truly cemented his place as the Parisian’s number one after an incredible start to life in France. He arrived from Palermo last summer for €3.5m as part of Leonardo’s recruitment mission, unveiled alongside Mohamed Sissoko at the back end of July.
Leo knew full well about the potential of Sirigu due to his vast knowledge of the Italian Serie A having played/worked there for the near entirety of his career. His sound judgment was exactly that. Where others may have raised an eyebrow at the acquisition, the Brazilian has played a masterstroke in luring his services.
Gregory Coupet’s retirement last season left a void to be filled. Nicolas Douchez also arrived in the summer on a free transfer from Rennes and was immediately awarded the number 1 shirt – many believing the 31-year-had already claimed the starting berth. That simply was not the case, and although Sirigu’s debut on the opening day of the season was not one to remember – a 1-0 loss at home to Lorient – he certainly showed glimpses of his quality.
He has played the entirety of every Ligue 1 game this season, only missing out on trips in the Europa League which have been fulfilled by Douchez. His qualities are there for all to see, outstanding agility, superb positional awareness and above all else, decisiveness. One of his criticisms in Italy was his tendency to flap at crosses into the penalty area, causing havoc within the Palermo defence. This is something he has eradicated since joining the club. Despite the defence being far from solid, Sirigu has commanded the penalty area, making decisions for himself instead of relying on his peers. He has also had his work cut out, producing an array of top class saves that deserve to be lauded with superlatives. He has kept his team in it times, and it was certainly evident in the dying embers at home to Lille, producing two quick fires stops to gain a valiant point.
His humility on the pitch is evident and it is apparent his teammates are just as happy to have him as he is to be adorning a Parisian shirt. He recently told Le Parisien; “I’m happy to be a PSG player. I would not trade my experience here with anyone”.
It can be argued that he is vastly becoming the club’s most important player, certainly based on performances this season. Where others may have been found wanting, Sirigu has stepped up to the mark, improving his all round game in the process.
He still has a long way to go in replicating the likes of Bernard Lama, but if he can crown this season off with a Ligue 1 title, it will certainly set him on his way.