Five players key to Paris Saint-Germain’s third straight Ligue 1 title success

Paris Saint-Germain clinched their third consecutive Ligue 1 title with a game to spare on Saturday after beating Montpellier 2-1. Here are five players who played central roles in helping PSG win the French title for the fifth time.

Edinson Cavani has emerged from Zlatan Ibrahimovic's shadow this season, scoring 16 league goals and 28 in all competitions, including 10 in six matches in the run-in. Pascal Guyot / AFP
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Paris Saint-Germain clinched their third consecutive Ligue 1 title with a game to spare on Saturday after beating Montpellier 2-1.

Here are the five players who played central roles in helping PSG win the French title for the fifth time.

MARQUINHOS (defender)

An outstanding young defender around whom, along with Marco Verratti, PSG would like to build a team really capable of winning the Champions League. The Brazilian, who turns 21 this month, has been just as useful at right-back as in central defence this season and has even appeared in central midfield. The presence of Thiago Silva and David Luiz means Marquinhos may become even more of a fixture at right-back in future. Broke George Weah’s club record by making 34 appearances in one season for Paris without suffering a single defeat before his run came to an end in the Champions League quarter-final against Barcelona.

MARCO VERRATTI (midfielder)

The diminutive 22-year-old playmaker is one of the most exciting young players in world football. Outstanding technically and a magnificent passer of the ball, Verratti has added an ability to score and create goals to his game this season, with as many assists in Ligue 1 as in the last two campaigns combined. Also scored his first goals in the French top flight. The giants of European football would love Verratti, but if PSG can keep hold of him the sky is the limit.

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JAVIER PASTORE (midfielder)

After two disappointing seasons saw him fall out of contention for the Argentina squad at last year’s World Cup, Pastore has recovered the form that he showed when he first arrived in France in 2011. Indeed he has been so impressive in recent months that the enigmatic Eric Cantona described the 25-year-old as “the best player in the world”. Pastore has scored or set up 15 goals and dazzled fans and opponents with his marvellous touch. Comfortable in midfield or wide in PSG’s front three, although he is given a licence to roam.

ZLATAN IBRAHIMOVIC (forward)

The Swede has not been as impressive as in either of the previous two seasons, when he won France’s player of the year award on both occasions. That is partly due to a heel injury that saw him miss half a dozen games in the autumn and then a three-game ban in April that followed an extraordinary rant at a referee following a defeat in Bordeaux. The extent to which his influence is on the wane was exemplified by PSG beating Chelsea in the last 16 of the Champions League despite having Ibrahimovic sent off in the first half of the second leg at Stamford Bridge. And yet Ibrahimovic remains the biggest draw at the club. He has still weighed in with 30 goals in all competitions this season and with 106 goals in total since signing in 2012, he is now just three away from Pedro Pauleta’s overall club record of 109.

EDINSON CAVANI (forward)

Cavani is still not the player he was expected to be when Paris paid a French record 64 million euros ($72.7m, £46.2m) for him in the summer of 2013, and there is a good chance he will leave the club in the close season, with the likes of Juventus, Atletico Madrid and Manchester United all having been linked with the Uruguayan. However, Cavani has scored 16 league goals and 28 in all competitions, including 10 in six matches in the run-in. He has scored goals against Lyon, Marseille and Saint-Etienne in the league, notched a brace in the League Cup final defeat of Bastia and found the net six times in 10 Champions League games.

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