Leandro Paredes moved last summer from Roma to Zenit in transfer nobody expected to happen. Of course, there is a background story to this shock move and it is, to be honest, as simple as they get. Roma needed the money to meet the FFP restrictions, Zenit had money and the deal was made. Of course, that wasn’t the reason this deal came as a shock to Roma’s fanbase. It was the name of the buyer that caused confusion. Everyone was ready to see Paredes go, but no one expected to see him go to Russia. Juventus, Real Madrid, and Borussia Dortmund were all interested in signing Paredes, but Zenit prevailed.
And now, a year and a half later, he’s moving once again, this time to Paris. Thomas Tuchel, the same guy that wanted him in Borussia Dortmund and was short with cash now finally got the player that he wanted so badly. PSG will pay around 40 million euros, with seven in bonuses, for the versatile midfielder.
Using the luxury of playing in Russia
Paredes is a rare blend of attacking instinct and defensive solidity combined with the mental strength and attitude to make him an implacable opponent. His equally powerful playing with or without the ball and his vision is just ecstatic for a true football fan to watch. He’s also able to play the ball long and short, but his long balls, that add to his vision, are his biggest forte.
As Piotr Foot, from whom I borrowed this screenshot posted above well noticed, his long balls are even better then you could expect. Most of them are very risky and sometimes even too long for the broadcast director to get them in a scene on time. Also, one must keep in mind that he’s playing in Russia, a league that many would isn’ too kind of technicians like him. One thing is particularly pleasing in his game and that’s also one of the reasons for PSG to pay almost 50 million euros for him. He almost never plays ball to the back. Leandro Paredes is, as much as a player can be that, a definition of progressive football.
Leading the orchestra
Above we can see him as the deepest playmaker in the squad, a role he plays because of Zenit’s lack of passing quality on centre back positions. Otherwise, he would be playing 15-20 meters up front, something that’s surely waiting for him in Paris. There isn’t much movement from him in the build-up and that could be a problem in Ligue 1. In Russia, he plays that way, featuring as the focal point of Zenit’s build up but in Paris, for most of the games, that won’t be possible due to the nature of the opponents. Ligue 1 teams tend to pressure higher than teams in Russian Premier League and that will surely make him step up his movement when in need to accept the pass and play forward.
Another sore point on which Leandro Paredes must continue to improve: discipline. He is an Argentinian, he loves fighting, he knows how to provoke, but he also knows that he has to channel himself. On this point too, the Zenit player has improved significantly since 2 years.
He plays in a similar manner to Javier Mascherano when he played at the base of the Liverpool midfield before eventually going on to convert to the centre of the defence following a move to Barcelona but he’s also by far better when it comes to passing the ball. Also, his vision and awareness allow him to minimalize his lack of movement while building up the attack. One can’t watch Paredes without yelling „how does he see that“ in the screen. He’s just that good.
Thomas Tuchel kind of player
When it comes to running into the channels and filling voids Paredes proves that his footwork in the build-up is intentionally slow, simply because he knows that he can have it that way. The speed that Paredes covers the intervening space in is excellent and he shows the intelligence to stay on his feet in the challenge and to spin away from the immediate opponent as soon as he wins the loose ball.
This particular skill is vitally important for him since he plays as a deep-lying playmaker with a lot of box to box midfielder manners and traits. If you want to be able to fight all the time you also need to choose your fights wisely and that’s exactly what it is doing. Every sprint, every horizontal movement and every jump he makes is smartly calculated and executed in swift fashion. Saying that you can almost hear an echo returning „Thomas Tuchel kind of a player“, and yes, he indeed is.
Lethal for opponents defence
As mentioned above it is important that Paredes does not constantly move against the opposition in possession as to do so would weaken the overall defensive structure of his side. Paredes has the capacity to read the game and choose the right moment to move up and press the player either in possession of the ball or about to receive the pass. This timing and intelligent movement make him lethal for opponents defense and reliable for his.
Numbers are also on his side. WhoScored have him given him a rating of 7.44 this season and he is currently in their Russian Premier League team of the season. His rating is second-best of any player in the league this season and that’s pretty much everything that I want to express with numbers when it comes to Paredes. He deserves to be watched as much as possible before his game get’s judged by numbers because, as reliable, as numbers are, in his case, they can’t paint the full picture.
With everything above in mind, Paredes really is a great buy for PSG. They are the team well known for deadly transitions from deep in their half turning defense to attack in a matter of seconds and Mbappe is elemental in its execution. Right in the heart of their gameplay is a place for Leandro Paredes.
Ideal complement for Verratti and Neymar
As the PSG players win the ball back in their half, one of the first instincts is to sight Mbappe and send out an aerial pass into his path. Mbappe skills are on display in this sequence – he accelerates to reach the ball, out powers the defender trying to mark, controls the ball that generally comes from behind with his first touch and then sets himself up for a shot. An that’s just what Paredes is great at, long balls and out of this world vision that needs to spot Mbappe in the first place. Also, as you can see below, Paredes isn’t afraid to fire a shot on opponents goal from open play, something this PSG team is missing for years now.
Compared to Julian Weigl, with a similar profile, Paredes could be an ideal complement for Verratti and Neymar in the midfield of PSG. He could also quickly get along with his attackers Cavani and Mbappé who know how to find the right spaces on the front of the Parisian attack.
Verrati for the tempo, Paredes for the distribution and just and Neymar as the giant slayer sounds like a good recipe for success in the middle of the field. With already solid defence and insane attacking force PSG has everything that’s needed to bid for the Champions League title.