After Paris Saint-Germain confirmed that Thiago Silva is out of the first leg against Barcelona all eyes were on a 21-year-old who played much of last season in the fourth tier: Presnel Kimpembe.
Article top media content
Presnel Kimpembe, at 21, made his his UEFA Champions League debut in place of the injured Thiago Silva when Paris Saint-Germain faced Barcelona. But who is he|?
Kimpembe, who started his career at left-back, had made only a handful of first-team appearances before this season, spending much of the past two campaigns with Paris's second team in France's fourth tier. Yet a combination of injury to Thiago Silva and Marquinhos being on Olympic duty gave the youngster his chance in pre-season; he immediately impressed.
Kimpembe, who hails from just north of Paris, began the campaign at centre-back and even though the return of Thiago Silva and Marquinhos restricted first-team opportunities, his talent was noted. Several Premier League clubs are reportedly keeping tabs and in October he received his first senior international call-up by France.
The following month he signed a new deal running until 2021. "My ambitions for this season?" he said. "Win titles, play as much as possible and experience some great moments with my team-mates, the club and the fans." It doesn't get much greater than pitting your wits against Lionel Messi, Luis Suárez and Neymar.
Paris and Belgium defender Thomas Meunier said of Kimpembe: "If I had to compare him with someone it would be Vincent Kompany. Presnel has that same elegance and aptitude. He's really a modern player: he always wants to build from the back."
Losing Thiago Silva is a massive blow for the French champions, especially as Kimpembe has never played a single minute in the UEFA Champions League. What a time to make your debut! Strong, quick and agile, the left-footer is fairly small for a centre-back at 1.83m but is competent in the air and has excellent poise and distribution. It's not in the air that Barcelona generally pose a threat, though.