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With Lionel Messi and Neymar gone, can PSG compete in Champions League with Kylian Mbappe and new transfers?

Sep 11, 2023 | Sports

Paris Saint-Germain had one of this summer’s best transfer window performances, rebuilding a bloated squad. After Lionel Messi, Neymar, and Sergio Ramos left, sporting advisor Luis Campos could make the wholesale changes expected upon his arrival in the summer of 2022.

Notably, this offseason, Parc des Princes arrivals include Randal Kolo Muani, Ousmane Dembele, Lucas Hernandez, Gonzalo Ramos, and Manuel Ugarte. However, the reintegrated Kylian Mbappe, still in the capital and scoring as often as ever, has helped Ligue 1 under new head coach Luis Enrique start well.

PSG are still in the transfer market, with Marco Verratti and Julian Draxler expected to leave before the Qatari transfer window closes. With wins over RC Lens and Olympique Lyonnais, the French champions appear formidable again and show positive signs on the pitch.

The rebuild’s main aspects and how it could finally help PSG focus on the UEFA Champions League are examined.

Strength in depth
Les Parisiens have had a talented and star-studded squad for years but little depth. Christophe Galtier and Mauricio Pochettino had fewer options in central defence and midfield than Thomas Tuchel.

Campos has rebuilt the squad in core positions, so Luis Enrique now has at least two quality options for each work on the pitch, from custodian to striker. Although a few key versatile players can fill multiple roles, there are enough quality players for two good PSG starting XIs.

Various profiles
This reconstruction of the Parisien squad is underrated because Luis Enrique has 22-plus players to choose from when fit and players of different profiles. Dembele, Bradley Barcola, and Lee Kang provide width, while Hernandez can cover the left side of central defence and play left back.

The France international, who joined from Bayern Munich this summer, is already making an impact as Presnel Kimpembe and Nuno Mendes recover from injuries. Despite PSG fans’ initial reluctance to accept a player with strong ties to bitter rivals Olympique de Marseille, that shows Campos’ logic in his work.

True French spirit
Another notable aspect of this new Paris squad is its transparent French core, which was never the case under Qatari ownership. Since Adrien Rabiot and Alphonse Areola left Les Bleus, Mbappe and Kimpembe have led capital club representation, but Randal Kolo Muani, Dembele, Hernandez, and Bradley Barcola have joined them.

Rabiot and Areola’s losses promoted PSG’s academy, as did El Chadaille Bitshiabu’s, but Kolo Muani, who is from Bondy like Mbappe, restores some Paris-born identity. Midfielder Warren Zaire-Emery is the team’s best homegrown player, while Nordi Mukiele adds Parisian blood.

No outside influences
Lionel Messi, Neymar, Leandro Paredes, Mauro Icardi, Marco Verratti, and Hugo Ekitike all left PSG this summer, making them a major topic of conversation. Let Sergio Ramos go, despite his vast experience, helped suppress a powerful Spanish-speaking clique over time.

The Ligue 1 giants tried to sell Neymar for over a year before he joined Saudi Arabia, giving Campos financial flexibility with Messi and Ramos. The painful divorce with Verratti shows PSG’s seriousness about cleaning up their act, given how long his unprofessionalism was tolerated. Ekitike should leave, too.

A new age
After years of hype, Champions League winner and youth development specialist Luis Enrique is building a real team ethic at Les Parisiens. Early results indicate that he and his players are on the right track, but Lens and Lyon have struggled this season.

PSG may reveal their status later this month after a tripleheader at home to OGC Nice, Marseille, and Borussia Dortmund in the French top flight and on the continental stage. The UCL knockouts will be the test for any new player, coach, or squad in Paris, and we may be months away from a verdict.

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