In the era of super clubs it has become a norm for the top challengers in European football to boast a versatile and deadly attacking trident upfront.
It started with Real Madrid and Barcelona and the formation of ‘BBC’ and ‘MSN’. Barcelona brought in Luis Suarez to complete the MSN trio, a front three so deadly that teams rolled over in their wake even as Barcelona found it difficult to play their natural game. Earlier in 2013, Real Madrid brought in Gareth Bale for a world record transfer to complete the BBC trio which already boasted Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema.
The general equation of a front three is that the better the understanding and consideration between the forwards the better it is for the team. Messi threading balls to Neymar and Suarez and sacrificing his natural central position is an example of how a front three can work in a way where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. At Madrid Benzema ensured that Cristiano and Bale thrived due to his off-the ball movements.
Now, Paris Saint-Germain have their own lethal trio after Neymar’s 222m Euro move from FC Barcelona.
The initial period has been superb with Neymar doing the playmaking and Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani feeding off each other’s strength. However, problems crept in with the ‘penalty-gate’ incident involving Nemar and Cavani. The two players fought over who should take a penalty in a game against Lyon on Sept. 17.
That led to unrest in the dressing room as players chose sides in light of the incidents. As chaos ensued, PSG coach and president called on the players to become more like a ‘family’.
It appears now that the PSG team and it’s trio of forward stars are forming a partnership. Neymar is the star of the show, while Mbappe is the emerging talent set to take the world by storm. Cavani is the striker who will create the space for the others to capitalize.
PSG’s recent results aganist Bayern Munich (3-0) and Anderlecht (4-0) signals an end to the dispute among the trio as all three got in the score sheet during both Champions League games.
The dynamics is ultimately different from say Barcelona’s MSN trio but there are also similarities that can be identified, especially in light of what Neymar said about Mbappe.
Neymar’s words reveal how much he respects Mbappe’s talent, referring to him as the ‘golden child’.
"He's a golden child, who is at a great level. He's a great player, he has all the qualities to convert into a big name in the football world. I'm a big fan of his and I want to help him in every way possible. I hope to do the same for him that Messi did for me,” Neymar said.
To do what Messi did for him, the Brazilian will have to play to his own strengths while keeping in mind the strengths of his strike partners.
He might have to curb his natural game at times for the sake of the team because when you have talented players around you, it becomes a responsibility. At Barca Messi was the chief star and Neymar is the undisputed star of the PSG side. The dynamics is different to the MSN however as was revealed by what Cavani said about Neymar.
While at Barca the MSN thrived because of the bonds of friendship, at PSG it will have to be consolidated by means of professionalism.
Cavani admitted that his relationship with Neymar is not a close one but suggested that they don’t need to be ‘friends’ and get on well with each other.
"We need to be a competitive team, but we do not need to be friends," he said. "You have to be professional and afterwards everyone has their own life."
Regarding the decision to share penalties, the PSG forward added: "The important thing is to win and we have to find the best solutions for the team. It is something the manager must decide, whatever's best for the team. I think the manager will find the solution."
For now, Neymar’s will to be Mbappe’s ‘Messi’ and Cavani desire for professionalism hold the PSG trio together. And right now the best thing for PSG is that the Neymar-Mbappe-Cavani trio struck a balance.