Defeat will stand to PSG more than their money

Defeat will stand to PSG more than their money
SO CLOSE: PSG's Neymar touches the trophy after the Champions League final defeat to  Bayern Munich at the Luz stadium in Lisbon, Portugal. Picture: AP Photo/Manu Fernandez, Pool

MAYBE it was the empty stadium, but you could almost hear the sigh of relief from the footballing world when Bayern Munich claimed the Champions League title in Portugal last Saturday.

And while Bayern can hardly be seen as plucky underdogs (their sixth trophy in the competition puts them firmly among the hegemony of the elites), they were, and are, regarded as the preferable winners of Europe's premier cup competition compared to the grubby, nouveau-riche lot in PSG or rather their Qatari owners to be exact.

The French club has transformed beyond all recognition since being taken over by the state-backed Qatar Sports Investments group in 2011.

Since then, the investment group has done just that and have heavily financed the acquisition of €1.254 billion in playing talent at the Paris club, turning it into THE dominant force in French football.

The attempt to buy your way to a title is not new but has rarely been done so cynically and by such an undesirable organisation.   

PSG have added seven league titles since 2011 while they only had two titles to their name in the previous 50 years of their existence. Their run has usurped the traditional powerhouses in the French game like Marseille and Saint-Etienne and even newer dynamos like Lyon and Monaco to the point that many now view the French league as a one-horse race for some time to come.

In the 2011/12 season, PSG, or rather their Qatari owners, spent €107m on new players, including €42m on Javier.

In 2012/13, €151m was the amount spent, including €42m on Thiago Silva, €40m on Lucas Moura, €30m on Ezequiel Lavezzi and €21m on Zlatan Ibrahimovic, plus the loan move for David Beckham.

Edinson Cavani, Marquinhos and Yohan Cabaye were all added to the squad as part of a summer spending spree of €135.9m in 2013 before David Luiz arrived for €49.5m a year later.

A total of €116.1m was outlaid in 2015/16 and another €134.5m in 2016/17 but that was nothing compared to what happened in the summer of 2017 as they prepared for the 2018 season.

PSG forked out €222m to sign Neymar from Barcelona, while also agreeing on a deal to get the signature of Kylian Mbappe for €145m the following summer.

In 2019, the Parisians only spent a meagre €95m on new signings, including Keylor Navas and Pablo Sarabia. But that came after scrutiny from Uefa into their transfer 'methodology'.

Nevertheless, quite the outlay you'd agree and to an extent, it has paid dividends as in the last nine years, PSG have won seven Ligue 1 titles, five Coupe de France trophies, six Coupe de la Ligue trophies and seven Trophee des Champions titles.

PSG are now untouchable when it comes to the French game but one suspects that the outlay in funds from Qatar was more about turning the Paris club from underperforming potential into a European powerhouse. Something that has yet to transpire.

Last Sunday, was the closest PSG have got to the promised land of a Champions League title. And but for a bit of bad luck, especially in the first half, they may well have won it. Bayern's experience in this situation stood to them in the second half and they put the game away thanks to the finish of a former PSG star Kingsley Coman.

In many aspects of Sunday's final, PSG were superior to their German counterparts. Certainly, they seemed to have the edge up front as Neymar, Mbappe, and Di Maria looked to have worked out how to get around the Bavarian side's high line of defence.

PSG's Kylian Mbappe shoots on target against Bayern Munich in the Champions League final, but as was so often the case on the night failed to find the back of the net when better options were available. 	Picture: AP Photo/Manu Fernandez, Pool
PSG's Kylian Mbappe shoots on target against Bayern Munich in the Champions League final, but as was so often the case on the night failed to find the back of the net when better options were available. Picture: AP Photo/Manu Fernandez, Pool

However, consistently throughout the night, when the PSG front three had better options to pass it to a colleague in an advantageous position, more often than not, they squandered the chance by opting for self-glory and burying the shot into the grateful embrace of Manuel Neuer.

Despite the success PSG have enjoyed back in France they still have to work out the combination to the Champions League safe.

As I pointed to, the greed of their star players, that puts self-interest above club success is part of the reason behind why they have not got the job done. This is also often cited as the reason why Man City (the only other state-backed club in the world) have not captured the European genie either. It's easy to see the players of PSG and Man City as calculating mercenaries with no other passion but pay and fame. But then that would be to indicate that the professional players in other clubs somehow possess a better character than these professional players in Paris and Eastlands.

That is naive in the extreme. Players today come and go from cubs with pretty much the same ambition for pay and fame and while there are exceptions, there is little to differentiate players no matter where they play.

The main reason PSG and Man City have not cracked the European conundrum is that they simply do not possess the institutional experience to win it, yet.

They have thrown money at the problem and have made massive strides. 10 years ago, the suggestion of PSG and or Man City winning the Champions League would be laughed at. Not so now.

Money can bring you so far, experienced coaches a little bit further, but the experience of losing the final may be the best and last piece PSG need to go on and win it. The old saying that 'you need to lose one to win one' may be just what the Parisians need.

And good luck to them if that's the way they decide to go about it. But one fears they may go another course. And it's the reason they rub opposing fans and the establishment within the game the wrong way. And that they decide to say, "To hell with it, we will just buy Messi!"

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