PSG have embarked on an Italian job ever since they were taken over by QSI. From Sirigu to Thiago Silva, we take a look into PSG’s usurps from Italy.
Paris and Milan are the fashion capitals of Europe. Top fashion designers showcase their collections at fashion shows, that attract global attention, in both the cities. Students pursuing fashion technology and other related courses too head to these places for summer courses and internships. The two cities are also attractive tourist destinations.
Now, a one-way attraction of a footballing kind seems to be in action – From AC Milan to Paris Saint German. The signing of Brazilian centre back Thiago Silva, for a mind-boggling 42 million pounds – in addition to wages of 9 million pounds per year, and the purportedly impending signing of Zlatan Ibrahimovic are indication enough of how serious PSG are to make a mark in the Champions League at the first time of asking.
While AC Milan’s decision to sell their marquee players is based on their financial condition, PSG’s mega splurge since being taken over by Qatari investors reflects the different dynamics at the contrasting ends of football’s financial spectrum; PSG whose pockets are as deep as the oil fields from which they make their money and Milan representing the struggling state of financial situation of their nation. PSG’s spending since new owners QSI arrived a year ago is now €172.5m after Thiago Silva completed the €42m move.
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that the Serie A has become a feeder of sorts to PSG. It started with the appointment of Leonardo as the sporting director, who left his job as the manager of Inter to come to the French capital. Then came goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu from Palermo, Jeremy Menez from Roma and Mohamed Sissoko from Juventus. And in what was the costliest transfer in the history of French football then, they spent €39.8 m on ‘poster boy’, Javier Pastore.
Mid-way through the season PSG sacked Antoine Kombouare and brought in the more ‘sexier’ Carlo Ancelotti, who again made his name with AC Milan in the Serie A. Thiago Motta joined in the winter from Inter. Not satisfied with finishing second in Ligue 1, though attaining their stated objective of qualifying for the Champions league, the Parisian outfit have raided Serie A again. Ezequiel Lavezzi was signed from Napoli for €30 m and now Thiago Silva.
If the Ibra deal does go through, the new strike partnership of Lavezzi and the swede could be a daunting prospect for defences in France and Europe. This again casts doubts over the future of last season’s top goal scorer, Brazilian Nene, who chalked up 28 goals and 14 assists in all competitions.
Irrespective of whether they add more players or not, PSG are, atleast on paper, overwhelming favourites to win the league title this season. While champions Montpellier have made impressive additions to the squad, offsetting the loss of top scorer Giroud to some extent, it would be a herculean task to repeat the heroics of last season. They now have European exertions to contend with, in addition to the pressure of expectations that comes with being champions. Lille have lost a host of players from their championship winning 2010-11 squad, although they are still expected to be in the mix.
Erstwhile big spenders Lyon are on a cost-cutting spree and are looking to the reserves and the academy to keep themselves competitive. Recent champions Marseille and Bordeaux are in no position to atleast mount a challenge for the title and would be aiming for Champions League football at best. It would be fair to say that PSG have assembled a squad, to set in motion a sustained period of dominance domestically. All that is left is execution on the pitch.
But Europe will, in all probability, prove to be a different proposition. PSG are expected to be drawn alongside heavyweights like Barcelona, Juventus, Manchester City. They need not look further than Manchester City, who have struggled in the Champions League, to know how tough it is in Europe. Hence, the urge to spend big on players with Champions League experience.
Amidst all this, a lot of home-grown talent is getting lost at PSG. Mamdou Sakho, a product of PSG’s famed youth academy and club captain not too long ago, has fallen out of favour with Ancelotti and has barely featured since the Italian took over. Kevin Gamerio, once a member of the French national team, has also seen little game time under Ancelotti, who talked about building a side with a French spine.
By the looks of things, it seems he does not seem too bothered about walking the talk. Pescara’s Marco Verratti is also expected to sign with PSG in a couple of days. PSG’s Italian job rumbles on!
~ Written by Chaitanya Lakkapragada ~