Do Hakimi, Messi, Ramos, Wijnaldum, and Donnarumma Really Make PSG the Champions League Favorites?

As is listed by the market valuations of Transfermarkt, Paris Saint-Germain acquired over £200 million worth of new superstar players over the summer, and the only one that the club paid for was Achraf Hakimi for £54 million. It was a tremendous effort by the notorious money-splashers, and unsurprisingly, it’s put them very much atop the European pecking order, but is there still something missing?

Assessing the Favorites for the Champions League

The UEFA Champions League is the title that the owners, the Qatar Sports Investments, have craved since taking over, pumping money in to create the best team in Europe. After revamping following losing the Ligue 1 crown to Lille, the PSG squad is, on paper, the best that it’s ever been.

Still, the experts around the world aren’t yet sold on PSG as the top contenders for the European crown. At one of the highest-rated, five-star betting sites in India, all of Bayern Munich, Manchester City, and PSG rank as the joint-favorites at 4/1, a fair bit ahead of the reigning champions Chelsea, at 8/1.

This is significant, especially as neither of the other teams improved their squads as PSG did, and the French team reached the final as recently as 2020. This view is concurred by statisticians, too, but with PSG seen as even greater dark horses, only giving them a seven percent chance of reaching the final.

Just Growing Pains, or Something More Troubling?

Bringing in Achraf Hakimi, Lionel Messi, Georginio Wijnaldum, Gianluigi Donnarumma, and Sergio Ramos not only patched holes in the starting line-up, but it also improved upon what was already in place. The signings greatly strengthened Les Parisiens, but so many stars joining at once was always going to lead to some growing pains – especially as the goalie had a late summer and the La Liga duo picked up injuries.

Still, the “Super Team” has been impressive, going ten games undefeated after losing the Trophée des Champions to Lille. That is, until an early October visit to Roazhon Park, which saw them leave as 2-0 losers to Stade Rennais. The talent is certainly in the squad, but perhaps it’s the manager’s stubborn commitment to a four-player defense that’s hindering progression.

Looking at a fully fit PSG side, it’s clear that Hakimi at right wing-back, Juan Bernat at left wing-back, and then three center-backs would be the optimal set-up, allowing for two central midfielders, two inside forwards, and a striker. This is primarily because Hakimi is such an almighty force when given this flank-encompassing, two-way role. Prior to his injury, Bernat proved serviceable as a wing-back too.

Naturally, injuries haven’t been of help to PSG or manager Mauricio Pochettino, but this team’s full potential is yet to be unleashed, which is likely why the experts are holding back on expectations for now.

Tags Achraf Hakimi Champions League Georginio Wijnaldum Gianluigi Donnarumma Lionel Messi Mauricio Pochettino Sergio Ramos