Paris, Wednesday @PeopleSports11
After an honourable defeat to Barcelona on away goals in the Champions League quarter-finals in 2013, Paris Saint-Germain’s Qatari president Nasser Al-Khelaifi stated the club’s objective was to win the competition “in the next five years”.
That deadline expired with Tuesday’s limp defeat to holders Real Madrid in the last 16, leaving the French side as far away from being European champions as at any point since Qatar Sports Investments (QSI) bought the club in 2011.
For all their lavish spending, PSG have still not made it past the quarter-finals of the competition this decade, and there have now been consecutive exits in the last 16, the 5-2 aggregate loss to Cristiano Ronaldo’s Real coming after a spectacular collapse saw them crash out in Barcelona a year ago.
The strategy after that defeat was to commit to paying the two biggest transfer fees in football history last August to sign Neymar and Kylian Mbappe for a combined 402 million euros (Sh50 billion), an attempt to buy immediate success on the biggest stage.
It has not worked, with Neymar left watching Tuesday’s 2-1 defeat at the Parc des Princes that sealed PSG’s fate from Brazil, where he is recovering from a foot operation.
“We believe in our players. We want to continue the project, with the two of them because they are the future of the club,” said Al-Khelaifi on Tuesday when asked if the club’s investment should be called into question.
Seven years after QSI’s arrival, PSG have still managed to beat just three teams in the Champions League knockout stage: Valencia, Bayer Leverkusen and Chelsea. That is a damning statistic for a club with their means and ambitions.
“We will continue, as much as patience allows, to build a team which can win in the future,” said coach Unai Emery on Tuesday. Soon to be out of contract, Emery will not be given another crack at the competition in Paris.
The club will look for a new coach, and they will be tempted to go for a big name after the failure of the Emery experiment, the Spaniard won three Europa Leagues with Sevilla but has never won a Champions League knockout tie in six seasons of trying. -AFP