A glamorous summer transfer window is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get. Well, in the case of Paris Saint-German, it appears we do. The French giants had what appeared to be a mouth-watering summer of recruitment, finished off with the arrival of Lionel Messi, the crown jewel of Barcelona. He joined a group of remarkably talented footballers as PSG set their sights on winning the Champions League.
There were seven new faces brought into Parc des Princes ahead of this season and the biggest captures did not cost a single penny in transfer fees. There was Italy’s Euro 2020-winning goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, defender Sergio Ramos, midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum and, of course, the Argentine wizard Messi.
The quartet would have been able to negotiate some of the most lucrative contracts in the game without it becoming much of a strain for PSG’s owners, who were willing to do whatever it took to bring in big signings with the Champions League title their only goal. They have now booked their place in this year’s knockout stage, but there is plenty of work for Mauricio Pochettino to do if his side are to avoid an immediate exit in the next round.
While on paper, the PSG squad was strong even before the big-name summer arrivals, many people believed that this was the year that the Champions League trophy would find its home in the French capital. But too many people were viewing the additions for their individual talents, rather than by how they would work cohesively. In that regard, particularly on the European stage, things haven’t quite gone to plan.
In the six games they have so far played in the competition, Les Parisiens have failed to reach the same level of holders Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and Bayern Munich. And the reason for that is that there is no balance in the side and the players are not working collectively. In particular, the glistening forward line of Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Messi, while each incredibly gifted, do not work in the same way their rivals do out of possession. It goes deeper than that, though.
Ramos, who arrived after 16 years at Real Madrid, came with such promise to instil that winning mentality in Europe which has been absent at the club over the years. Yet PSG didn’t seem to realise that they hadn’t signed the player from his glory days, but rather a veteran. A veteran who so far has pulled on their shirt only once this season while costing the club a considerable amount of money per week. At 35 years of age, this was very much a do or die year for the Spanish legend to have one last crack at Europe’s most prestigious title, and now his body appears to be his worst enemy.
Then there is Wijnaldum, who rejected a new deal with Liverpool as it didn’t meet his wage demands, and yet six months down the line from his exit from Anfield the Dutchman is reportedly already unhappy in his new environment and wants a loan move back to the Premier League.
It just shows that there is more to success than simply assembling a team of talented individuals in the hopes that the jigsaw will automatically be completed. Pochettino is one of the best coaches in the world but he is already proving how difficult it is to work with some big egos and players used to a certain way of life. There has to be a concern now that PSG’s grand masterplan could fail almost as quickly as it was built.
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