With youngsters like 20-year-old Mamadou Sakho and 23-year-old Mevlüt Erdinç catching the eye for Paris Saint-Germain FC, Pedro Pauleta believes his old club's future is bright.
Having spent the last five years of his career at Paris Saint-Germain FC, former Portugal striker Pauleta has an understandable affection for the club, and the feeling is mutual.
The 37-year-old was named as PSG's best player of the last 40 years and it is an honour he holds with pride as he told UEFA.com while working as an ambassador on the UEFA Champions League Trophy Tour in Bratislava. "Many exceptional players have come to Paris, so I am very happy.
It is a club I will keep in my heart forever. In the five years I spent there, the fans were great with me. When you receive such good news, you can't fail to be moved."
Pauleta played for PSG between 2003 and 2008 and celebrated a series of successes at the Parc des Princes. He scored the only goal of the 2004 French Cup final as PSG beat LB Châteauroux to lift their first trophy in six years. He also helped his side to the French Cup again in 2006 and the French League Cup in 2008 on the way to amassing 109 goals in 211 appearances.
Portugal's all-time top scorer at international level with 47 goals, the 'Eagle of the Azores' has worked as an ambassador for the club as well as helping out some of the youngsters on the training field. He follows their results closely and likes what he has seen this season, both home and abroad with PSG third in Ligue 1 and top of UEFA Europa League Group J ahead of Thursday's trip to Borussia Dortmund. "It's a tough group, but PSG have started really well," he said. "When you win in Seville and win at home, that's six points and you are almost qualified."
Paying special attention to PSG's strikeforce, he is now hoping their front pairing of Guillaume Hoarau and Mevlüt Erdinç can start producing the goals their talent promises. "Erdinç is the quicker one, more skilful and scores a lot," Pauleta said. "Hoarau is more a physical player who can keep the ball and play with his back to goal. The two players complement each other; they are not scoring many at the moment but all they need is one goal to get the confidence they need."
Erdinç struck in PSG's 2-0 win at Toulouse FC on Saturday, but it is their defence that has perhaps impressed the most this season. They have not conceded a goal in seven games and the jewel in PSG's defensive crown, 20-year-old Mamadou Sakho, also opened the scoring on Saturday. "Mamadou is a great defender," said Pauleta. "I saw this young lad starting to train with us; he was still playing with the reserves. He's very keen and shows great character. He has the skills to improve a lot. He will be one of the great French defenders in the future. He's very exciting."
Pauleta recalled how Sakho was named as emergency team captain during a game against Valenciennes FC in October 2007, and feels he has the qualities to be a leader. "Even though he showed a lot of character, you cannot ask a 17–year-old to captain a great team like Paris Saint-Germain. However if you ask me whether he can be captain one day, I would say yes." And would Pauleta still consider putting his boots back on for PSG? "If they need me, I am available," he joked.