Nearly a decade since Qatar Sports Investments purchased Paris Saint-Germain with the promise of turning the middling French outfit into a global superpower, the club is at a crossroad.
The next few months will be vital for PSG and you can bet on their games at Matchbook. Not only are they seeking to return to the UEFA Champions League final after losing to FC Bayern Munich last September, but they need to convince two of the game’s brightest stars that Paris is where they should spend their foreseeable future.
Both Kylian Mbappé and Neymar Jr. are on contracts that expire in 2022. That essentially means that PSG has from now until the start of the 2021-22 season to sign them to an extension or risk losing them for absolutely nothing. Considering Mbappé is the brightest talent in the game and Neymar can still fetch a hefty price considering his ability and marketability, PSG can ill-afford to lose those two players for nothing in the age of COVID-19.
So, what is Leonardo, PSG’s sporting director, to do? He can’t force Mbappé and Neymar to extend their stay if they don’t want to. He still has time to work his magic and show them why Paris is the best option for them but as the clock winds down, he will have to make a tough decision: sell Mbappé and Neymar to the highest bidders next summer.
The initial shock of losing two players of their stature will sting at first and it will certainly be a setback for the team on the pitch. Quite frankly, it will mean PSG will be in rebuild mode, which isn’t necessarily the worst thing.
It’s difficult to put a realistic transfer figure on Mbappé and Neymar due to the ongoing pandemic. All of the top clubs are struggling financially. But, let’s assume PSG can get upwards of €300 million for both Mbappé and Neymar. That’s easily enough for Leonardo to rebuild the squad and strengthen in the areas where it needs it the most (defense and midfield).
Sure, PSG’s two best players will be gone, but this would be an opportunity for the club to move away from the star-chasing strategy and try building a cohesive, well-rounded team. That strategy may not sell as many jerseys or bring in the lucrative sponsorship deals, but they just might fare better in the Champions League on a consistent basis.
In addition to a more balanced squad, a change in philosophy could lead to more opportunities for players in PSG’s youth squad, which if you don’t know, produces some of the best young talents in Europe. Unfortunately, most of those players leave Paris for more playing time elsewhere, like Kingsley Coman, who scored the game-winning goal for Bayern Munich over PSG in last season’s Champions League final.
In a perfect world, PSG would keep Mbappé and Neymar and still have the financial resources to build a squad to complement them. As we’ve seen, that just isn’t possible and it might be time for a change.
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