The French Revolution

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Story by Ben Steele

I’ve always quite liked Paris Saint-Germain, a big club in a big city yet they never quite managed to live up to the hype. Always the bridesmaid and never the bride, PSG have had to watch as Marseille, Lyon dominated the French footballing landscape. Then last year they hit the jackpot, the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) became the majority stakeholder in the club and the money started pouring in. The signing of Salvatore Sirigu, who has to sit behind Gianluigi Buffon in the Italy squad, for £2.7 million and highly rated Argentine midfielder Javier Pastore from Palermo for around £30 million last year was a signal of intent. So were the January signings of Inter Milan’s Thiago Motta and Chelsea’s Alex but yet again the Parisians were forced to watch as Montpellier had a fairy tale season that took them from relegation candidates to Ligue 1 champions. PSG finished as runners up. Clearly this wasn’t good enough for Director of Football (former Brazilian international) Leonardo, manager Carlo Ancelotti or QIA so they’re building on the foundations.

Clearly they have a plan, the base of Sirigu, Alex, Motta and Pastore is there and the club also has a youth academy that has churned out a number of solid starters. So QIA have set about adding a touch of glamour to their project. First they beat Inter Milan to the signing Napoli winger Ezequiel Lavezzi, who signed for £23 million on a 4 year deal at the beginning of the month. A move that was slightly embarrassing for Inter, who actually started printing shirts with “Lavezzi 11” on them. Like Pastore this is a coup, especially as they beat such an established club to the signing of one of the more underrated footballers in Europe. But PSG weren’t finished and over the last few days they’ve arguably changed the landscape of European football with a blockbuster double move for 2 of AC Milan’s best players.

First they locked up a deal for possibly one of the most talented defenders around in the form of Brazilian international Thiago Silva. The move cost the French club a mammoth 42 million euros (or around £33 million) making him the most expensive defender in the history of the game. He’s undoubtedly going to strengthen the side and with players like Alex, Diego Lugano and Mahmadou Sakho available as other defensive options it is fair to say that PSG will have one of the better defences in Europe, something that will serve them well in next seasons Champions League. Then the big one, one of the most decorated centre forwards in the world, Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The Swedish striker will earn about 13 million euros a year and is inarguably the biggest name to make the move to France.

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Before Juventus won Serie A last year Ibrahimovic had been on the team that finished top of the league he was playing in for the last 8 years, an incredible record. He, like all the other new signings, have said they’re looking forward to trying to win trophies and this is the key point for QIA and the board. A lot of money has been invested into PSG but its money that the Qataris will be expecting to get back in revenue. As the only major club in the French capital there is a monopoly on the football fans in the city and with the quality of player that has been brought in ‘Les Parisiens’ will be looking to become one of the biggest clubs in the world. In European football it is incredibly rare for a major capital to only have one big club and it is this platform that QIA can use as a springboard to more success. I really hope it works and they are able to buy even better players. For 2 reasons:

  1. I’d quite like to see PSG do well. Something about a club in the effortlessly cool French capital being successful appeals to me
  2. The most important reason is this though; the cost of seeing them play. I have worked out that it would be possible to GET to Paris and into the stadium to watch some of the best footballers in the world play for just under £100.

Well QIA have opened their wallets, I might have to find mine…

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