A single club has not boasted so much individual talent since Real Madrid’s famous ‘Galácticos’ squad of the 2000s.
The dramatic capture of Lionel Messi by Paris Saint-Germain, which will undoubtedly go down as one of the most shocking in football history, capped off an incredible summer of talent acquisition.
But can this squad deliver the Champions League to Qatar Sports Investments (QSI), the club’s owners, who bought PSG in 2011 and have yet to win it?
Messi’s arrival at PSG not only adds another feather to Qatar’s football cap, but it also brings the club and its owners closer to achieving their ultimate goal, given the Argentine’s status as one of the greatest players of all time.
PSG will unquestionably be the overwhelming favorite to win the Champions League this season, thanks to the additions of highly rated goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, Messi’s long-time rival Sergio Ramos, Georginio Wijnaldum, and Achraf Hakimi to an already stacked squad that includes Neymar and Kylian Mbappé.
“QSI bought PSG in 2011 because they wanted increased exposure for the country ahead of an eventual World Cup,” Christian Nourry, founder of Get French Football News, told CNN Sport.
“That World Cup is now coming, it’s only next year, but what’s happened over the course of this decade is that we’ve seen Al Thani, the owner, fall in love with this club, really taking a lot of interest in this,” added Nourry, referring to the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.
“[It’s] far more than a pet project for him and he’s seen this opportunity to create potentially the greatest attacking troika we’ve seen in modern football in Mbappé, Neymar and Messi, but also there are no excuses now.”
Messi will work with Mauricio Pochettino, a former PSG player and fellow Argentine, at the Parisian club.
“Mauricio Pochettino must win absolutely everything, that includes the Champions League, and he must do so in style, because in style has been something that Paris Saint-Germain have really struggled to do, with a largely counterattacking style of play over the course of the last two or three seasons,” added Nourry.
Messi, on the other hand, appears to share this sentiment.
Following his arrival in Paris, the Argentine told CNN that he believes PSG is the “ideal” place for him to win another Champions League title.
Despite Messi’s consistently outstanding individual performances over the years, the only blemish on his record in recent seasons has been his inability to lead Barcelona to European football’s most coveted prize, despite widespread speculation that the Catalan club’s failure to build a suitable squad around him was the root cause.
That will not be the case at PSG, which has amassed an incredible amount of talent and a burning desire to win the Champions League for the first time in its history.
“For me on a personal level, I would love to win another Champions League, like I’ve said in previous years, and I think I’ve come to the ideal place that’s ready for that,” Messi told CNN.
“We have the same goals. It’s got impressive players, one of the best squads in the world and, hopefully, we can achieve that goal which Paris wants so much, I want so much and hopefully we can enjoy it with the people of Paris too.”
PSG’s new front three of Messi, Neymar, and Mbappé is without a doubt the most talented attack in the world, and opponents’ defenders and managers will have nightmares trying to figure out how to stop them.
“It’s all just going to be about how many goals and assists is he [Messi] getting compared to Kylian Mbappé and Neymar,” Nourry says. “Who is going to be taking the majority of that responsibility on? I can’t wait to find out.”
Off the field, however, questions have been raised about PSG’s finances and how the club has avoided the Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations.