More than a decade of hiring and firing and splashing the cash has so far failed to deliver a Champions League trophy for Paris Saint-Germain’s Qatari owners. (More Football News)
Amid reports that the oil and gas rich Gulf state is now planning a move for Manchester United, a return to the summit of European soccer cannot be guaranteed.
Despite all the superstar signings, a series of coaches have not managed to achieve PSG’s owners’ ultimate ambition.
When Christophe Galtier was hired last July he became the seventh coach since Qatar Sports Investments (QSI) took over the club in June, 2011.
With its motto “Dream Bigger” splashed on the team bus, the owners had a clear ambition to make PSG one of Europe’s leading clubs.
Yet PSG’s 1-0 defeat to Bayern Munich on Tuesday in the first leg of the round-of-16 in the Champions League was its third straight loss and fifth in 11 games.
Since playmaker Javier Pastore became PSG’s first marquee signing for 42 million euros ($45 million) in 2011, the club’s net expenditure has risen to more than 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion).
Despite this outlay, there’s been more humiliating exits than finals.
The only Champions League final PSG reached was in 2020′s pandemic-shortened format — when it lost 1-0 to Bayern Munich.
In 2017, PSG was the first team knocked out after winning the first leg 4-0 in the round of 16, losing 6-1 in the return leg at Barcelona.
In 2019, PSG became the first team to be eliminated after winning the away leg 2-0 in the round of 16, losing 3-1 at home to Manchester United.
Against Real Madrid last year, PSG was leading 2-0 on aggregate before Karim Benzema’s devastating 17-minute hat trick.
While other stars inflicted damage on PSG, neither Kylian Mbappe nor Neymar — who cost a combined 402 million euros ($432 million) — scored during the Champions League’s Final Eight tournament in 2020.
That loss to Bayern was also symbolic because the goal scorer was winger Kingsley Coman — who left PSG when he was 18 — and he scored again on Tuesday.
PSG’s signing of stars such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Neymar and Lionel Messi, pushed homegrown forwards like Coman, Moussa Diaby and Christopher Nkunku — who all became France internationals — to leave for other clubs.
PSG’s academy had also previously failed to snap up other rising talents.
World Cup winners Thierry Henry, Paul Pogba (Juventus) and N’Golo Kanté (Chelsea) were Parisian youths but didn’t go through PSG’s academy, while Mbappé was also missed and signed from Monaco.
HIRE AND FIRE
PSG president Nasser al-Khelaifi sat alongside Galtier at the coach’s unveiling and made a pledge: “We have a new era to start, a new atmosphere, new objectives.”
Al-Khelaifi, however, was long seen as too close to PSG stars who were indulged while coaches had a hard time keeping their jobs.
Since QSI took over, Carlo Ancelotti is the only coach not to be fired. He left for Real Madrid in 2013.
Ancelotti was hired only after Antoine Kombouaré was moved out in December 2011 with PSG three points clear at the top. PSG lost the title to modest Montpellier by three points.
Galtier replaced Mauricio Pochettino, who had one year left on his contract and became the fourth coach in succession to be fired by PSG after Thomas Tuchel, Unai Emery and Laurent Blanc.
Pochettino, who took over in January 2021 from Tuchel, paid the price for the Madrid defeat last season.
Tuchel had been shown the door after reportedly claiming that managing PSG was like being a politician, such was the level of difficulty. Emery reportedly fell out with Neymar.
Pochettino and Blanc had signed new contracts before getting fired, exposing PSG’s impatience and apparent indifference to hefty compensation packages.
Pochettino and his staff reportedly received around 10 million euros ($10.8 million). When Blanc was fired in 2016, PSG paid out 22 million euros ($23.7 million).
Fans were also angered at how long-serving captain Thiago Silva and Cavani — PSG’s all-time leading scorer with 200 goals — were encouraged to leave.
Considered too old for two-year contracts in Paris, Silva then won the Champions League with Tuchel at Chelsea and Cavani scored in the Europa League final for United in 2021.
But the Madrid defeat last year finally prompted an introspective overhaul at PSG.
Sporting director Leonardo — whose strong contacts with AC Milan made it possible to sign Ibrahimovic, Silva and European Championship-winning goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma — was fired during his second spell.
Yet problems have resurfaced under the new regime.
PSG hadn’t lost three straight games since late 2011, and its five losses in 2023 are more than all of last year.