The future is always five steps ahead, but closer than you think.
For Paris Saint-Germain, a plan that could have only been concocted in a futuristic fantasy has landed them Neymar Jr. and Kylian Mbappé. While the vultures in the Spanish and French press look to cause superficial damage to the PSG machine, the future cannot be stayed, even for the envious and covetous. However, by no means is the Parisian club done. There is much work to do. For it is a matter of history that after a revolution, things may either change for the better due to prudent actions and decisions or deteriorate back to the previous state due to neglect and greed. So what must be done by Nasser Al-Khelaifi and Antero Henrique to resist the urge to rest on their laurels, and to keep the club moving forward?
(For reference this list is chronological from the immediate future out into the way distant future)
1. Extend Adrien Rabiot’s Contract
Every great outfit in European football has what I like to refer to as a “stalwart.” The “stalwart” is the constant in a game of inconsistency. The “stalwart” goes through the ups and the downs of a club with dogged determination and solid leadership. While PSG have had players stay for decently long periods of time, the overhaul this team went through in the early part of the decade means the longest-tenured player at PSG is Javier Pastore. It is vital that for the years ahead PSG lock down players who will provide consistent play in critical roles. In other words, PSG needs its Andrés Iniesta, it’s Francesco Totti, etc. There is no better candidate for that role than Adrien Rabiot, a youth academy graduate who has scratched and clawed through the PSG system and is now finally finding his place in the squad on a permanent basis. He has yet to miss a game this season, he plays hurt, has a tremendous motor, can play multiple roles in the midfield, and has the potential to be a rock that can hold this PSG group together through the trials ahead. Signing him to a long-term extension is an absolute must. With Thiago Motta leaving next year and Marco Verratti constantly under threat of leaving, Paris needs some guaranteed consistency in the middle of the pitch. PSG’s most improved player of 2017 deserves to be treated like the crucial cog he is, and the potential captain of the capital club.
2. Sell Lucas, Pastore, and Ben Arfa
The January transfer window is important for Les Parisiens. They need to sell off some excess baggage. While Hatem Ben Arfa and his moody Instagram videos will be missed as well as Lucas Moura’s goal-poaching, Pastore will be really tough for PSG fans to let go. However, it’s time to move on from the mercurial, rarely fit Argentinian wonder. With the way PSG are currently constructed, Pastore will not be a starter, nor will he get significant minutes off the bench. He still has value and to the right team can garner a decent sum. Now is the time and as the most valuable realistic asset that PSG can sell, it makes no sense to keep him.
3. Avoid Financial Fair Play Sanctions During Summer of 2018
According to sources, PSG is €80 million away from satisfying the Financial Fair Play watchdogs. While this number seems rather arbitrary and unverifiable, if true, it gives PSG a realistic but still tricky goal to obtain. Selling the three players above and doing very well in the UEFA Champions League will bring them closer. While tricky, I do feel PSG have the ability to reach this goal primarily because of the step that they will take below.
4. Resign Sponsorship Deals for Much Higher Fees
Nike has a large stake in the success of the PSG project. With Neymar and Mbappe both signed for long-term deals, it is in Nike’s best interest to re-negotiate their contract to ensure PSG stay in compliance, to build their two poster boys towards future FIFA World Cups, and earn more profit from their soccer division. A potential new sponsorship deal for the rights to advertise on the front of the PSG Jersey may also be lucrative. Qatar Sports Investments, who own PSG, must resist the urge to make an in-house deal and look for a potential sponsor whose deal will be counted fully toward their compliance. May I suggest a premier car company like Mercedes-Benz. The nice thing about having Neymar is that the exposure he has means whoever advertises with PSG gets tremendous levels of exposure. A win-win for both sides.
5. SIGN A GOD DAMN #6!
As PSG Talk contributor Guillaume always says, “PSG need a god damn six.” A player who can sit in front of the defense and fully unleash the potential of the attacking firepower PSG possess. A central-defensive midfielder is possibly the last piece of the PSG puzzle and turn them into the undisputed odds-on favorite for Champions League glory. Unfortunately, due to the pressure from UEFA, a January fix would seem unlikely. However, a July push for Chelsea FC’s N’Golo Kante, or a more affordable option like Steven Nzonzi, or in-house candidate Lorenzo Callegari could fill this hole. The good news for supporters is that if Alphonse Areola turns this exceptional start into the jumpstart of a brilliant career, PSG can focus less on a starting goalkeeper and micro-target the 6 of their dreams.
6. Get Value for Departing Stars and Adequately Replace Them
The next five are definitely more long-term goals. As with any team, turnover will occur and players will get older and need to be replaced. Eventually, the likes of Thiago Silva, Edinson Cavani, Dani Alves, and Verratti will probably leave. If I were to guess, each will leave within the next two to three years. The key for Paris and for whoever makes the personnel decisions is to try and sell these players 1-2 years before they fall off in form to make sure proper compensation is received. This will also be done in concert with replacing these players with fresh young superstars ready to make a name for themselves. This would include Presnel Kimpembe taking the everyday starting center-back role, Alec Georgen replacing Dani Alves, Giovani Lo Celso potentially replacing Verratti, and a player like Gonçalo Guedes filling in for Cavani and bumping Mbappé into more of a central 9 role. If PSG can successfully navigate this transition then they will be in a great place to eventually deal with either Neymar or Mbappé moving on at some point.
7. Expand Into New Markets (United States, Africa, and Asia)
While PSG has begun to extend its tendrils across the globe, they still do not have the international appeal of a Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, or Manchester United. Quite honestly, at this point, they shouldn’t. It will be up to the owners and management of this club to continue to create academies in all parts of the globe, especially in areas of potential growth for the game. This would include China, India, Africa, and the United States. For this plan to work, PSG must be able to obtain large television rights fees for Ligue 1 in all parts of the globe to continue getting positive exposure. For the plan to work, they must also continue to to be inclusive and diverse in who they hire and from where they source employees. For example, a PSG team store in the United States or in China would be a great sign of progress. The more PSG gear seen across the world the better.
8. Development of Timothy Weah Into a Superstar by 2019-20 Season
Some may be puzzled by this inclusion. Timothy Weah is the 17-year-old son of potential Liberian President, Ballon d’or winner and PSG icon George Weah. Timothy is in the PSG youth academy starring for the under 17s. It may be presumptuous to say this but he may very well be the most precious asset PSG currently have rights to and that includes Neymar. Think about this for a minute. The young son of a footballing icon with African roots and American citizenship. Christian Pulisic is great but he is not necessarily set up to be a goal scorer in the future. Weah plays central forward or off on the wing and has the raw potential to be a goal-scoring machine and we all know how much Americans love goals. Imagine in 2021-22 a 21-year-old Weah starring for a top European club in Paris, scoring tons of goals, being in all of the commercials, and leading the US alongside Pulisic to a World Cup. My goodness, the money will just print itself. It is essential that PSG treat Weah with an eye for his potential mega-star future. This can’t be another Kingsley Coman or Dan-Axel Zagadou situation where both young talents leave before their potential is reached.
9. Win the Champions League by the 2019-20 season
While this goal is self-evident and evergreen, I feel like three years is the magic tipping point. For example, if Neymar and Mbappé cannot get the job done at PSG in this three-year window, they may begin to examine other options. If in three years the experiment is proven to be a massive disappointment all of the progress made over the last three years will have been for very little. While these are harsh expectations, PSG have set themselves up for this sort of scrutiny and will have nobody to blame but themselves if they cannot achieve the primary objective.
10. Renovate the Parc Des Princes Starting in 2020
With Paris set to hold the 2024 Summer Olympics it will be a great opportunity for the club to renovate and improve the Parc. While being one of the most sublime stadiums in all of Europe, every building needs a renovation now and again. The inclusion of luxury boxes of course but more seating closer to the field should create the same sort of dynamic atmosphere that PSG fans expect. Alongside their updated training facility, this will allow PSG to be a destination for the world’s top football stars for decades to come. A shining beacon into the even more distant future.