The Financial Express

PSG dug their grave themselves

| Updated: August 20, 2022 21:08:47

Photo: Marca Photo: Marca

After yet another early exit in their last UEFA Champions League campaign, Paris Saint-Germain opted for a revised strategy this time.

Gone were the days of extravagant spending and signing star names, this time, it was about a project which Christophe Galtier, who won the league a season back with Lille, will spearhead.

And their signings this summer have provided enough reason to believe that. They went for Vitinha, Renato Sanches, and Nordi Mukiele, none of whom are front-page superstars but are very effective.

Galtier uses a 3-4-1-2 formation, meaning he wanted to give Lionel Messi, Neymar Jr, and Kylian Mbappe complete freedom upfront, so he opted for workhorses who would cover the luxury of fielding them. PSG went for farmers so that the kings could eat.

But PSG created a problem at the back end last season, and in their pursuit to win an ego fight, they forgot how much it would cost.

Mbappe was bound to Madrid. A childhood dream waiting to be fulfilled. But PSG, reborn only in splurging and luring players with gold coins, were not ready to be beaten in a game they thought they were very good at.

So, in a desperate attempt, they handed their French Wunderbar a contract football had never seen. In his new three-year deal, Mbappe earns 50 million Euros per year, and just by signing it, he received a bonus of over 100 million Euros. But that's not the catch.

Mbappe was given authority over signings, how the team would play, and a say in the football project through his new contract. So simply put, PSG made Mbappe the president of the club.

"Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown", - William Shakespeare wrote. And for a 23-year-old, this crown was way too heavy to handle, and it has been showing.

In their recent 5-2 win over Montpellier, Mbappe showed that his head is not in the game but only himself.
During a counter-attack, Vitinha did not pass the ball to Mbappe. And what happened next defied logic. Mbappe just moved away from the action on the right wing, standing his ground on the left and looking away.

While the other players were taking in liquids at the sideline during the hydration break, Mbappe stood alone near the centre circle.

That did not represent a team. That represented a clear class division and status quo, which would only continue to harm their team.

In the past few seasons, no team won the UCL with only one player carrying them. The closest was Messi taking Barcelona to the semi-finals in 2018-19, but even one of the greatest players could not do it.

Real Madrid depended on Karim Benzema, Vincius Jr, and Thibaut Courtois heavily last season, but each team member played out of their skin to lift their 14th title. Chelsea, Bayern Munich, Liverpool - all were proper teams.

PSG are not. For years, they have been guilty of signing big names rather than going for a sustainable project, leading to their downfall.

But this time, they managed to kickstart a project but ensured their grave was already dug by giving Mbappe more power than any footballer has ever had.

PSG sacked Thomas Tuchel after problems with Mbappe. Neymar was tried to be ousted this summer because Mbappe didn't want him.

Adding all that up, what comes in is that PSG tried to keep their golden goose and saw him turn into the case-zero of a pandemic.

And amidst all these, the only man smiling might be Perez, who now must believe he dodged a bullet.

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