Home » Sports » The Neymar-Mbappe Project Was A Failure. What Should Be The Next Course Of Action For PSG Regarding Achieving Their Vision Of Winning The Champions League?

The Neymar-Mbappe Project Was A Failure. What Should Be The Next Course Of Action For PSG Regarding Achieving Their Vision Of Winning The Champions League?

by Ozymandias
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neymar and mbappe at paris saint-germain

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Ambition is priceless, it’s something that’s in your veins.

This statement definitely applies to the owners of Paris Saint-Germain. In June 2011, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the Emir of Qatar, bought 70% of the French club’s shares through Qatar Sports Investments (QSI), a subsidiary of Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), the country’s sovereign wealth fund.

They made it known to the world from the onset that their primary target for the club is to win the UEFA Champions League trophy, something the club has never achieved in its history.

From the get-go, their actions definitely matched their words. Barely 1 month after acquiring a majority stake in the club, they recruited young sensation Javier Pastore from Palermo, Mohamed Sissoko, and Blaise Matuidi from Juventus and Saint-Etienne respectively, among other players.

pastore joins Paris Saint-Germain

In July 2012, Paris Saint-Germain acquired recently crowned Serie A winners AC Milan’s two best players: Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva. It was this audacious move that spearheaded the achievements the French club would achieve in the coming years.

zlatan and thiago silva at paris saint-germain

It’s been 13 years since Qatar Sports Investments took over management of the club and they have won an impressive 34 trophies so far across all competitions. Most notably, Paris Saint-Germain have been Ligue 1 champions 10 times since the takeover.

However, they are yet to win the trophy that the club’s management mostly treasure and that is the UEFA Champions League.

Over this period, the run of form in the French domestic league has been nothing short of impressive but the club has struggled to replicate this form in Europe’s major competition. They mostly get knocked out in either the round of 16 or the quarter-finals.

Their most infamous loss came in the 2016/17 season when they miraculously lost 6-1 to Barcelona despite taking a 4-0 lead in the first leg. That game is the first and only time thus far that a team has overturned a 4-0 deficit to win. Granted, there were some controversial refereeing decisions during the tie, nevertheless, for a club of Paris Saint-Germain’s caliber to concede 6 goals in a match is rather unsettling.

barcelona celebrating 6-1 victory over Paris Saint-Germain

This defeat must have set off sparks within the club management because the word ambitious is not enough to quantify the actions Paris Saint-Germain took in the coming months.

In the summer transfer window of 2017, the French giants made the audacious move of signing both Brazilian star Neymar Jr and teenage sensation Kylian Mbappe for a combined sum of  €400 million. In the process, Neymar Jr and Kylian Mbappe became the most expensive and second most expensive footballers in the history of the sport.

That record still stands to this very day.

Many eyebrows were raised after both of these transfers happened especially with regards to financial fair play. There were those who felt that regulatory bodies allowing transfers like these to occur would end up ruining the integrity of the sport.

In the years that followed, it appeared that this move by Paris Saint-Germain was going to seriously misfire. They coughed up €400 million to bring Neymar Jr and Kylian Mbappe to Paris and they failed to make it past the round of 16 in their first 2 seasons with the club.

There were also rumors of tensions and scuffles between players and coaches at Paris Saint-Germain. For example, it was believed that coach Unai Emery was struggling to manage the egos of players like Neymar Jr, Cavani, Dani Alves, and Mbappe. Also, apparently, on regular occasions, there were heated arguments between the main men themselves, Neymar Jr and Mbappe.

mbappe and neymar

Neymar Jr was reportedly jealous of the attention Mbappe received from the media and fans. Mbappe on the other hand reportedly got regularly frustrated with Neymar Jr’s perceived selfishness on the pitch and his tendency to hog the ball.

Too many cooks were apparently spoiling the broth for the French giants.

As the saying goes, the third time is the charm. In the 2019/20 season, Paris Saint-Germain eventually reached the Champions League final after failing to make it past the round of 16 for the past 2 seasons. They were now within a hair’s breadth of achieving the vision of the club’s management. 

They were set to face off against German giants Bayern Munich at the Estadio da Luz in Portugal on August 23, 2020. Paris Saint-Germain were considerably the better team during the encounter but as fate would have it, they lost to their opponents. 

The vision had to be placed on hold.

In August 2021, Lionel Messi joined Paris Saint-Germain after deciding to leave Spanish side Barcelona. This was a serious cause for excitement among fans of the French club. Many expected Messi, Neymar Jr, and Mbappe to become a regen of the Messi, Neymar, and Suarez attack which is arguably the greatest attacking trio in the history of football.

messi neymar and mbappe at Paris Saint-Germain

More importantly, it was perceived that Messi was the final piece of the puzzle with regard to the club actualizing their goal of winning the Champions League.

This was not to be the case as in the 2 seasons Messi spent at Paris Saint-Germain, they failed to make it past the round of 16 on both occasions. 

In the summer of 2023, Neymar Jr and Messi both left the club. Neymar Jr signed for the Saudi Arabian club Al-Hilal for a fee of around €90 million while Messi joined the American side Inter Miami after his contract at Paris Saint-Germain expired.

And then there was one (Mbappe).

It was evident that at some point in his career, Mbappe would eventually join Spanish side Real Madrid. The Frenchman has admired the club since childhood. Back in February 2024, he informed PSG that he was not going to renew his contract which was set to expire at the end of the season.

Mbappe also did not state where he would be headed next although the answer to this is fairly obvious.

Paris Saint-Germain had one last chance to win the Champions League with their star player. After beating the odds to defeat Barcelona in the quarter-finals, they were set to face off against German side Borussia Dortmund in the semi-finals. 

dortmund defeat psg

Many expected both legs of this tie to be a walk in the park for the French side and eventually reach the final. Strangely enough, they lost both legs of this tie despite having a far superior team compared to that of Borussia Dortmund. Another season went by with no Champions League trophy.

Since Paris Saint-Germain failed to win the Champions League title during Mbappe’s last season with the club, it is now an established fact that the Neymar-Mbappe project was indeed a failure.

The Frenchman has now made it official that he will be joining Real Madrid as his contract has expired at Paris Saint-Germain. After the Euro 2024 tournament, he will be unveiled as a Los Blancos player.

This is the rather sad story of Paris Saint-Germain, a club with a very lofty ambition and the resources to achieve it but sadly could not materialize this ambition.

No one can fault the French club’s ambition and dedication with regards to achieving their primary target of winning the Champions League. Their shortcomings start and end with the people making decisions at the club. Having a visionary leader like Roman Abramovich, Florentino Perez, or Pep Guardiola among a club’s decision-makers is crucial for achieving great success. 

These individuals possess a deep understanding of the game, a clear vision for the club’s future, and the courage to make bold decisions. They attract top talent, foster a winning culture, and invest in top-notch infrastructure, enabling the club to compete at the highest level. Their leadership and expertise also inspire confidence in players, coaches, and fans, creating a sense of unity and purpose. 

perez and guardiola

Moreover, they are willing to take calculated risks and adapt to changing circumstances, ensuring the club remains competitive and innovative. By having such a leader, a club can overcome setbacks like the failed Neymar-Mbappe project and achieve sustained success, as seen at Chelsea, Real Madrid, and Manchester City under these visionary leaders.

What Should Be The Next Course Of Action For Paris Saint-Germain?

Paris Saint-Germain’s quest for the Champions League trophy remains unfulfilled. While the star power of Neymar and Mbappé was undeniable, their era ultimately fell short. Moving forward, the club must prioritize a different approach. 

The answer may lie in a shift in focus. Instead of simply throwing money at big names, Paris Saint-Germain should invest in building a cohesive team unit, fostering strong leadership within the squad, and potentially bringing in a sporting director with a proven track record of building champions. 

By prioritizing strategic squad building and fostering a winning mentality at every level of the club, Paris Saint-Germain can take a significant step closer to realizing their Champions League dream.

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