Layvin Kurzawa from Monaco to PSG a shrewd move by Ligue 1 champions
Just hours before Thursday's Champions League group stage draw, Paris Saint-Germain announced the signing of Layvin Kurzawa from AS Monaco.
The France international left-back signed a contract until 2020 and arrives at Parc des Princes for a reported fee of €23 million, an amount that looks like it will prove to be money well spent by the capital club.
PSG have been patient in their pursuit of Kurzawa this summer. Just when it looked as if les Parisiens might change target and pursue Real Madrid's Fabio Coentrao instead, the Ligue 1 titleholders timed their final move perfectly and went back in to get their man following les Monegasques' elimination from the Champions League play-offs against Valencia on Tuesday.
Portugal international Coentrao has in fact replaced the 22-year-old in Monaco since.
The signing of Kurzawa is another impressive piece of summer business from PSG, who are enjoying greater freedom on the transfer market after UEFA lessened the financial fair play (FFP) limitations that had been imposed on the club earlier this summer.
Kurzawa follows Argentina international Angel Di Maria, German goalkeeper Kevin Trapp and fellow Frenchman Benjamin Stambouli through the door, but in order to make room for his France international teammate, Lucas Digne has joined AS Roma on loan with an option to buy.
Laurent Blanc's men have definitely upgraded with this transaction though and importantly, they have not lost a valuable future star for les Bleus.
Digne is a more balanced and responsible player than Kurzawa -- the 22-year-old is good going forward and good defensively, but he does not excel in either role. The former Lille OSC man is -- or at least should have been -- a steady presence akin to that of evergreen Brazilian veteran Maxwell.
Kurzawa is different. The former EFC Frejus Saint-Raphael man is more athletic, very attack-minded and almost like a winger in terms of his style. That is not to say that he cannot defend; he can and he is surprisingly solid but his real quality lies in getting forward, putting in crosses and scoring goals.
Back in the 2013-14 season, Kurzawa scored five goals in Ligue 1 alone and laid on three assists. He also scored four league goals last term, despite a series of injuries.
Essentially, in Kurzawa, PSG are buying the closest thing le Championnat has to a left-sided version of les Parisiens' Ivorian right-back Serge Aurier. The prospect of the pair of them at the height of their ability behind the likes of Di Maria or Lucas Moura will be a frightening prospect for many domestic and European defences this season.
One of the main reasons why Digne failed in Paris and something that makes Kurzawa more likely to succeed than his international teammate is the difference in their character and mentality.
It takes a certain type of personality to succeed at PSG and Kurzawa's exuberant and cocky attitude will likely see him fit in perfectly in Blanc's star-studded squad. Digne, on the other hand, felt the pressure of bright lights at Parc des Princes and ultimately wilted under them and shrunk next to the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, captain Thiago Silva and Thiago Motta.
Kurzawa will not and instead, it is the sort of stage that the capital outfit's new No. 20 will thrive on and push him to tap further into his impressive potential.
Not only is the former Monaco man arguably a better fit than Digne in terms of personality, he also boasts greater Champions League experience.
Thanks to last season's run all the way to the quarterfinals with the principality club, Kurzawa already has a taste for the big European nights and he will want more, something that coincides with PSG's big ambitions of winning the Champions League in the not-too-distant future.
The new arrival will of course start by playing second fiddle to Maxwell. However, there is a feeling in Paris that this time the Brazilian has a real challenger for his position, something that Digne never really threatened in his time in Paris.
Kurzawa's injury history is questionable and the Frenchman has already picked up a few knocks and been unavailable at times this season. The same can also be said of Aurier though and his current form justifies the risk that comes with starting such an athletic player regularly.
Monaco face questions over their decision to sell Kurzawa to their direct Ligue 1 title rivals PSG and rightly so, but the acquisition of the talented left-back was a smart and understandable move from the French champions.
Not only do they get a player that ticks all the boxes for them, the transfer also weakens arguably their strongest title rival this term -- a move that, in theory, should make it easier to focus on the Champions League later on in the season. It was a no-brainer.
Kurzawa might not have to wait long to make his debut either. PSG are on the road again this weekend, looking to make it four wins from four Ligue 1 games and guess where they are on Sunday night? Monaco's Stade Louis II.
Jonathan Johnson covers PSG and the French national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @Jon_LeGossip.