PSG's January transfer window proves less is sometimes more

PARIS -- Paris Saint-Germain were expected to make a few moves during the recently closed January transfer window, and though they were not inactive, they did less than initially expected.

The French capital outfit did address their one major need -- depth in defensive midfield -- with the signing of Lassana Diarra on a free transfer, and one surplus star name with wages to match -- Lucas Moura -- was eventually moved on to Tottenham.

PSG sporting director Antero Henrique could have shifted the likes of Javier Pastore, Kevin Trapp, Hatem Ben Arfa and Lorenzo Callegari, as was predicted pre-window, but ultimately the Portuguese transfer guru opted for one major move in and another out.

A few youth academy products were farmed out on loan -- notably Alec Georgen to Eredivisie side AZ Alkmaar, Moussa Diaby to Serie A outfit Crotone and Remy Descamps to Tours in Ligue 2 -- while Romain Habran was granted a permanent exit to Antwerp in Belgium's top tier.

Overall, January has to be considered a successful month for the Ligue 1 leaders. Diarra has come in and adds depth behind ageing and injury-prone Thiago Motta, while Lucas has barely featured all season and has been turned into money to be used in compliance with UEFA's financial fair play (FFP).

The senior squad has barely changed, meaning the group's chemistry -- attempts at self-implosion withstanding -- remains largely intact (even if Lucas was a key figure away from the pitch), and this will please coach Unai Emery.

PSG have big matches coming up in the second half of the campaign, particularly the Champions League round-of-16 doubleheader against Real Madrid, and the Spanish tactician should now feel more or less good about the mix of players at his disposal.

Henrique could have done more on the market -- such as bring an end to Pastore's time at Parc des Princes by letting the Argentina international join Inter Milan or loan out a few more youngsters like Callegari -- but the former Porto man did not feel the winter transfer window was the right time to do business. Fair enough.

Pastore's concerns over his potential World Cup involvement with La Albiceleste this summer were understandable, as were Trapp's with Germany. But with FFP such an important consideration at this crucial moment in time, Henrique was not pressured into sales for sentimental reasons, and rightly so.

Both players wanted out in order to give themselves the best possible chance of going to Russia at the end of term, but because of their infrequent competitive outings this season, no suitors were prepared to meet PSG's asking price.

Henrique would have allowed Pastore to leave, less so Trapp, but only if Inter paid the price he deemed fair for El Flaco -- not a loan offer with an option to buy in the event that Champions League qualification was secured.

The Italians did not, so instead of taking another body out of Emery's squad, the sporting director held firm and Les Parisiens are more competitive as a result.

Being unable to sell Pastore in January can hardly be considered a failure. Like Lucas, the man from Cordoba has largely struggled to live up to sometime unrealistic expectations in Paris, but that does not mean the Qatari-owned club are obliged to loan him or just sell him for next to nothing to keep his World Cup hopes alive.

Henrique had FFP at the forefront of his mind throughout the January transfer window, and armed with the insurance policy that is Goncalo Guedes -- currently excelling on loan with Valencia and attracting interest from most of Europe's elite clubs -- Henrique was right to hold out for the right price.

The remainder of the approximate €75 million FFP deficit PSG need to fill between now and this summer through player sales or increased commercial revenue can still be reached if Pastore finally gets his Inter switch at the end of the campaign, or if Trapp, Guedes, Angel Di Maria, Julian Draxler or even Edinson Cavani get moved on.

The €28 million plus a potential further €5 million in bonuses that Lucas fetched from Spurs, minus the cost of Diarra in terms of salary, might not look like much on its own, but if players like Pastore and Trapp or Guedes, Di Maria, Draxler or Cavani go in the summer, that €75 million mark will be reached quite comfortably.

In fact, at his current rate, Guedes will be able to fetch that alone if PSG do not let him stay with Valencia past the end of term.

The French giants might not have been the most exciting team in Europe in January, but they were not the most boring either. Their business was sensible and responsible, in terms of getting good value for money with both Diarra and Lucas, and it has given them options moving forward and kept them strong with good depth until the end of the season.

Sweeping changes did not need to be made to a squad faring well on the domestic and continental fronts so far this campaign, and come the end of term, Emery may well be reaping the rewards produced by Henrique's transfer experience and know-how.