All transfer news this summer invariably has been linked to one club above all. Paris Saint-Germain have done the most significant shopping in this window and added some world-class footballers to their squad. We’re all familiar with the iconic strip as well as David Ginola’s all-conquering team in the nineties, but who are football’s latest rich kids and how are they shaping up for next season?
‘Ici c'est Paris’ is the club’s motto (This is Paris) and PSG enjoys the fanatical support of huge swathes of the Cities youth. Paris Saint-Germain set up in 1970’s with a merger of Paris FC and Stade Saint-Germain and as the second most supported club in France, behind bitter rivals Olympique de Marseilles gained success in the 1980s PSG won back-to-back French Cups and, in 1986, a first league title after investing heavily in big names Luis Fernandez, Kees Kist and the irrepressible Argentine Osvaldo Ardiles. That period of success was followed by a period of depressed fortunes when the club, dependent on gate money a meagre income from domestic TV revenue saw the clubs major stars take flight to greener pastures.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic at the Eifel Tower
PSG was saved by funding from TV station Canal Plus and the Paris club began itself up again resulting in the team of the nineties, of which, David Ginola was the centrepiece but which also featured Paul le Guen, Bernard Lama and Antoine Kombouaré. After securing their second Ligue 1 title the team then became the second French team to lift the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1996, in 1994 they were named IFFHS World Club Team of the Year.
Despite their successes PSG suffered another slump in fortunes and although their fanatical support remained loyal they often found it difficult to deal with the weight of expectations, reconcile boardroom differences and especially construct a sustainable financial model. They performed poorly in the domestic league and disappeared almost completely from the European stage. Drawing on a diverse fan base from both the white French far-right nationalists and from Île-de-France’s multi-ethnic population there have been over the years a number of unsavoury elements in their support that gained the club a tarnished image abroad.
Carlo Ancelotti is an experienced man manager
All that changed this year when Qatar Investment Authority became the sole shareholder of the club at an estimated cost of €100m making them over night, the richest club in France and possibly the world. Club President Nasser Al-Kelaifi said at the time that the club planned to spend another €100m in the next few years on securing some of the game’s top names to help challenge for the Champions League. And QIA have been as good as their word, and better, they’ve already stumped up the eye-watering figure of €212 million bringing in players such as Thiago Silva (€42 million), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (€65 million), Thiago Motta (€10 million) amongst others.
Director of Football Leonardo
Pilfering Milan’s two best players will make them a formidable side. Silva is widely regarded as one of the best defenders on the world and is a natural leader while Ibrahimovic scored 35 goals in all competitions last year and has true class. In July they brought in Napoi’s Argentine playmaking striker Ezequiel Lavezzi (€30 million) and are, at the time of writing, hovering over Luka Modric who ha san asking price of €40 million.
As we’ve seen with other ‘Cinderella’ clubs in the past, deep pockets do not necessarily bring immediate success, Chelsea had to wait 9 years under Abramovic’s ownership to secure the Holy Grail of the Champion’s League, Manchester City are kings of the Premiership but looked like mere mortals in the European competition last year. What makes you think things could be different with the Parc-des-Prince based club is that after spending €100 million last year they still finished behind Ligue 1 winners Montpellier, teething problems over. But probably of the gazillions they have spent, probably their shrewdest of buys was getting in Carlo Ancelotti as manager.
The ex AC Milan and Chelsea manager has years of experience at Europe’s top table, he is a wise and canny manager that knows how to deal with super-ego footballers and plays a creative attacking brand of football that will appeal to supporters and owners alike. Director of Football is ex PSG player and AC Milan manager Leonardo and with these two you have an experienced, charismatic team with a real attachment to the club. It helps that most of the other major clubs in Europe are feeling the pinch at the moment and are minding the purse strings at the moment, but it seems the stars have aligned for Paris Saint-Germain and they are on the verge of something great.
By Hugo Mc Cafferty