There are so many things in this world money CAN buy.
Some claim love and happiness can even be obtained with enough funds and while that may well be true, in case of Paris Saint-Germain the bagful of green ones – exceeding the whopping amount of £1 billion – cannot buy you a Champions League trophy.
Champions League Dream
With their domestic dominance firmly asserted following an upset year of 2016/17 when AS Monaco climbed their way to the Ligue 1 top, Paris Saint-Germain once again shifted their full focus on winning the Champions League.
The summer behind us made PSG fans believe the Champions League success was enticingly achievable.
Going around the Financial Fair Play to secure a world record transfer of Barcelona ace Neymar worth €222 and a year-long loan deal – with a rather silly purchase clause – for one of France’s biggest and hottest talents Kylian Mbappe sent a chilling message to the rest of the world.
With PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi once again digging deep into his pocket all signals that PSG could finally mount the European challenge were there.
But the reality struck hard at Parc des Princes as Al-Khelaifi’s expensive toy got broken by the reigning European Champions who – quite symbolically – demonstrated a huge difference between born and bred champions on one side and an artificially built project on another.
A Step Backwards
Before we get anyone angry – there is no disrespect aimed towards Paris Saint-Germain, a glorious French football club which stands as one of the household European names. The UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup winners and UEFA Super Cup champions from 1996, and UEFA Intertoto Cup winners from 2001 speak of rich history but also bear witness of PSG’s inability to get in the fight with more illustrious rivals from Spain, Germany, England and Italy over the past decade(s).
Their feet on solid financial grounds and fighting in a league which started gaining an increasing stature over the past couple of years, Paris Saint-Germain made the Champions League their ultimate priority. Starting from the 2012/13 season and four years onwards, PSG would end their European path in the Champions League quarterfinals.
The 2016/17 campaign saw Les Parisiens take one step backwards to finish the international season in the Round of 16, which only sparked another shopping spree from Nasser Al-Khelaifi in an effort to upgrade his toy with more advanced mechanics.
In a stinging contrast, however, the PSG president was left with a gut-wrenching feeling as his overpriced men got a footballing lesson by the out-of-form reigning European champions. Having easily negotiated the group stage of the competition, PSG got themselves high on the false sense of confidence – having beaten Bayern Munich to top their group – but were quickly given a wake-up call.
A Wake-Up Call!
Real Madrid crushed PSG’s dreams in the Round of 16 for the second year running, as they eased through a 5-2 aggregate despite enduring a damning domestic season.
The Tuesday night defeat was Paris Saint-Germain’s first home slump in all competitions since March 2016. Having gone unbeaten in their previous 51 matches the Parisians saw their balloon filled with a false sense of greatness pops in their faces.
With all the hefty sums they all receive on their weekly and monthly paychecks, PSG players have been rather disappointing in accepting defeat and that’s another damning and to a great extent indicative aspect.
Even the president himself, Nasser Al-Khelaifi, noticed it.
“What disappointed me most was the elimination and reaction of a few players. We’re not happy at all. It’s football, it’s a very long process in the Champions League. We have time to think about what we need to change.”, he commented after the game.
Six years on from his arrival to the French club, the poster boy of Qatar Sports Investments (QSI) is standing at the crossroads. Once again.
Exceeding well over £1 billion splashed on transfers when Mbappe’s loan deal was converted into a permanent deal – now that PSG officially avoided relegation (!?!) which was the obligatory purchase clause in his loan agreement – Al-Khelaifi has little to boast with.
Successive Champions League eliminations and a huge gap between the rest of the Ligue 1 this season is a pitiful return on investment which got PSG no closer to achieving the long-desired European glory.
The toy is broken and PSG have a huge task on their hands as they head into a wrapped-up season with a bunch of overpaid individuals whose motivation to put up a fight after a Champions League disappointment will be questioned.
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