French champions have successfully surpassed another obstacle on road to the coveted Champions League crown, which would be an ultimate confirmation of the French project that started in 2011.
Qatar Sport Investment group has bought Paris Saint-Germain with a promise to resurrect the fallen European giants and get them back among the elite, where they belong.
The purchase of PSG was the latest move aimed at raising the profile and promoting a sport-loving image of Qatar, following the purchase of Manchester City and the first ever commercial sponsorship of the Barcelona shirt.
The arrival to Paris breached a new frontier, with Qatari investors stepping in to make an instant impact on club’s finances, brand, marketing value and last, but not least, the sports aspect.
QSI have done great things in such a short time, restoring the stature of one of Europe’s former greats and launching the project that has seen the Qatari investors spend significant outlay on new players.
Signing of the Argentine midfielder Javier Pastore from Palermo for €45 million and shattering the French football’s record transfer fee was seen as a statement of intent and will, as a warning if you like.
Having in mind that PSG brought seven players for €40 million before Pastore, the arrival of the Argentine was a demonstration of power, of seriousness of the latest Qatari “project” which was not to be laughed at.
Still, it was another move from the Qatari owners that sent the shockwaves throughout the football world.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic moved to Paris from AC Milan back in the summer of 2012 together with Thiago Silva for a joint fee reportedly worth €80 million.
The figurehead of the project, Ibrahimovic was brought on a promise to become a leader, a frontrunner in the club’s endeavours to reach the highest heights of the European football.
Only four years later, now 34-year-old Zlatan Ibrahimovic, arguably in his most productive campaign with the club, looks set on course to round of his stay in the French capital with something great.
The Swede’s deal with the French powerhouse expired at the end of the season and former Milan player is keen to help his team make an additional push in the Champions League, why not even win it.
The French giants have now reached three successive Champions League quarter-finals, edging beyond Chelsea last season on away goals, following 1-1 in Paris and 2-2 in London. The Saints were then unlucky to run into the rampant Barcelona, who ended the two-legged tie with an aggregate win of 5-1. The Catalans went on to win the competition, leaving Paris Saint-Germain licking their wounds.
Tougher and stronger
A year older and wiser, Paris Saint-Germain are entering the closing stages of the elite club competition much stronger too.
Angel Di Maria was added to the star-studded squad leaving Laurent Blanc with a huge selection headache, but also with a 23-point advantage at the summit of the French Ligue 1 in March and a chance to mathematically secure another league title as early as at the weekend.
Paris Saint-Germain are playing at Troyes on Sunday and are given the odds of 1/4 to claim the maximum three points and claim the trophy.
With their domestic campaign all wrapped up, PSG are shifting their focus completely on the UEFA Champions League, and double win over Chelsea was indeed a step in the right direction and a confirmation of their progress.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic shares a mutual obsession with his club, as winning the Europe’s top competition would be something special for both Swedish striker and Qatari owners, and it would also be a cherry on top of four successful years at Parc des Princes for Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Champions League trophy in the one Ibra is still missing and the one he would love to add to his collection. Elusive trophy is three steps away from the Swedish star and this might be his last chance of lifting it.
“With time these owners can achieve anything here. They will hunt down this Champions League until they get it and they will not stop, with me or without me”, Ibrahimovic said casually ahead of the return leg with Chelsea.
Paris Saint-Germain might still not possess Barcelona’s quality, agility and fluency, but they are making huge leaps of improvement that makes them slight underdogs to win the UEFA Champions League this season.
Should they concede it will not be the end of their project, it will only mark its beginning.