The world record fee paid for Neymar was supposed to propel PSG to new heights. The league is theirs to lose every season, but their exploits on the Champions League leave much to be desired.
Not that all your hopes should be pinned on an individual like that. But the playing squad in Paris is one of the most expensively assembled in world football. £200m was paid to Barcelona for Neymar, whilst a rumoured £166m was paid to fellow Ligue 1 club Monaco for the services of Kylian Mbappe.
Add to that the £60m paid for each of Cavani & Di Maria, you are close to £500m on a front four. One that should be able to dispose of the rest of the French league with ease. And that comment is no disrespect to the rest of French football, but the financial backing PSG have massively outweighs the rest. A club backed by an entire state has huge advantages when it comes to purchasing power, even the ability to avoid regulations such as FFP.
But when it comes to the elite european competition, the Champions League, PSG fall short. Despite all their riches, their team does not equal the sum of the parts. Sacrifices have had to be made, to field the forward line that they do. Right back Meunier is a £7m signing and does not stack up in terms of quality to those in front of him. The same can be said for goalkeeper Areola, who has been at PSG since his youth days. A capable keeper for the league competition, but he has a few too many mistakes in his locker.
A huge part of their european struggles is the lack of competition in the league. They can cruise to victories in 2nd gear, meaning when they need to ramp it up, they can’t acclimatise quick enough. Midfielder Rabiot summed it up perfectly after their 3-1 defeat to Real Madrid, by saying;
“It’s all well and good putting eight goals past Dijon, but it’s in matches like this that you have to stand up and be counted.”
They suffered the same problem last season, lacking the mental capacity to see out a 4-1 lead over Barcelona, losing the second leg 6-1 and going out of the knockout stages. A loss inspired by now PSG player Neymar.
To rub salt in the wounds this season, Neymar is set to miss out on 3-4 months of competitive football, meaning he will miss the return leg against Madrid. So another year, another Ligue 1 title, but another Champions League opportunity missed?
Not much can be done about the quality of opposition in Ligue 1 by PSG, it is essentially not their problem. But as long as it stays the way it is, they will suffer the same struggles Celtic in the Scottish Premier League do. Are their achievements set to be undermined in the same way?