PSG project called into question after latest defeat
PARIS – Agence France-Presse
After an honorable defeat to Barcelona on away goals in the Champions League quarter-finals in 2013, Paris Saint-Germain’s Qatari president Nasser Al-Khelaifi stated the club’s objective was to win the competition “in the next five years.”
That deadline expired with March 6’s limp defeat to holder Real Madrid in the last 16, leaving the French side as far away from being European champion as at any point since Qatar Sports Investments (QSI) bought the club in 2011. For all its lavish spending, PSG has still not made it past the quarterfinals of the competition this decade, and there have now been consecutive exits in the last 16, the 5-2 aggregate loss to Cristiano Ronaldo’s Real coming after a collapse saw it crash out in Barcelona a year ago.
The strategy after that defeat was to commit to paying the two biggest transfer fees in football history last August to sign Neymar and Kylian Mbappe for a combined 402 million euros ($499 million), an attempt to buy immediate success on the biggest stage. It has not worked, with Neymar left watching March 6’s 2-1 defeat that sealed PSG’s fate from Brazil, where he is recovering from a foot operation.
“All that for that”, was the headline on the front of sports daily L’Equipe on March 7, a reference mainly to the bold transfer strategy.
“We believe in our players. We want to continue the project, with the two of them because they are the future of the club,” said Al-Khelaifi when asked if the club’s investment should be called into question.
PSG still has three domestic trophies to go and win before the end of the season, but that seems instantly less appealing once the big prize of the Champions League is no longer up for grabs.