2019/20 Countdown: Paris St. Germain
Ligue 1 – Champions; Coupe de France: Runners-up; Coupe de la Ligue – Quarter-finals; UEFA Champions League – Last 16
The question: Are they back on the right track?
It was a typical Paris St. Germain season last term; well a typical season under QSI – league domination and European capitulation. It was another season in which Le Parisiens made a mess of things in Europe, throwing a 2-0 first-leg lead in the last 16 against Manchester United to go out in a VAR-façade on home soil. As defender Marquinhos pointed out, PSG ate their shit on the continent, and a third successive first knockout round exit in Europe’s elite competition raised another inquest about a side who falter on the continent and dominate in France.
Actually, last season wasn’t quite one of dominance even back home for Thomas Tuchel’s side. They may have won the league, but lost out in both domestic cups, one in the final and the other in the last 16. The unspoken tag of ‘Plastic Galacticos’ remain for the big-spending French champions.,
But this summer, it looks like they might be spending right. In fact, it’s looked that way for a while, with the giant exception of Neymar, who no longer seems to be deemed worthy of the fuss he creates. Since the appointment of Tuchel’s predecessor Unai Emery in 2016, PSG have dialled it down a bit on the lavish spending (Kylian Mbappe cost a nine-figure sum, but he was still an astute addition). It was the arrival of Neymar that meant, thanks to Financial Fair Play, they wouldn’t quite bolster the side in more necessary areas, and as a result they looked rather top-heavy. Plus, there’s the sense that when he plays, Neymar’s self-indulgence hamstrings the team (a weird thing to note for a player that’s bagged 51 goals in two seasons for the club).
Neymar’s days in the French capital may well be numbered, and with the squad making smart additions in key areas, perhaps we should a more rounded PSG side this term. There was the sense of something building under Tuchel last term, not least tactically – as the win against Liverpool in November showed – and maybe this could be the time they sort themselves out and look very elite.
Rumours of Neymar returning to Barcelona may have died down, with his former side not quite having the wage budget to cover the Brazilian, and him returning to PSG training, but a move away from Parc des Princes would be of little surprise. In terms of confirmed departures, Gigi Buffon has left, after a year, and returned to Juventus, which is also the new club for Adrien Rabiot, who made his inevitable exit this summer. Young players Moussa Diaby and Timothy Weah have been sold, joining Bayer Leverkusen and Lille respectively, while Christopher Nkunku has moved to Leipzig. Giovani Lo Celso’s loan to Real Betis has been made permanent, same goes for Grzegorz Krychowiak with Lokomotiv Moscow, and Dani Alves has left on a free, joining Sao Paulo.
As for the arrivals, Ander Herrera joins on a free transfer from Manchester United, while Idrissa Gueye arrives from Everton. Pablo Sarabia (Sevilla), Marcin Bulka (Chelsea) and Abdou Diallo (Borussia Dortmund) are also new signings.
PSG have a talented squad, which looked to be gelling as a unit at some point under Tuchel last season. They’ve had their fair share of misfortune in Europe, and are bound to go the distance at some point.
PSG have a talented squad, which sometimes makes them look like a team of self-loving Galacticos. They look soft-centred at times and are capable of the occasional self-combustion.
The Gaffer (Thomas Tuchel)
The former Mainz and Dortmund boss showed signs of getting the team to be tactically pulling in the right in his first season. Knows there’s pressure in the PSG hot-seat, but should fare better in his second year at the helm.
How will they do
Like a few other sides in Europe’s top five leagues, domestic success is a bit of a given. The question is whether they can finally go into the latter stages of the Champions League.
Kunle Ajao121 Posts
Kunle Ajao is a football writer and columnist for spotkick. Having made a toss of himself trying to actually play the game, he knew better and got a pen instead of boots. Spends a bit of his time with the game, and thinks he's a bit like Sid Lowe. He's not