Now that the transfer window has officially been done and dusted, talks of potential transfers, loans and rumours can be put to rest (in theory). Looking back, though, what a window it was, and no doubt the biggest and craziest moves that happened involved PSG. They obliterated the world-record fee for a transfer, paying €222m, well over double the previous record fee that Manchester United had paid for Paul Pogba. They also managed to secure perhaps the best young talent in the world, Kylian Mbappe, on loan with an obligation to buy next season, on top of also snagging Dani Alves from Juventus. With all of this being said there’s still plenty of questions to be asked.
How is Neymar doing?
It was a shock to many to see Neymar leave Barcelona the way he did. He was part of the best attacking trio of all time, alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, and from the outset he was tipped to become Barcelona’s main man once Messi reaches his decline. You can’t blame PSG for signing him, if you can get a transcendent player like Neymar is, you pay the cost no matter how expensive he may appear to be. So far, he hasn’t disappointed either. At the time of writing he has already got four goals in five matches in the league, along with four assists. His partner in crime, Edinson Cavani, has got seven goals, so it seems as though they’re forming a strong partnership already.
PSG already sit atop of Ligue 1, winning every game and scoring a total of twenty-one goals in six games, and only conceding three thus far. It was pretty obvious that PSG were going to win the league, especially with Neymar, the main judgment comes from how they will do in the Champions League. They’ve only played one game, a 5-0 battering of Celtic. Neymar did his thing, scoring and assisting a goal so we can expect him to carry over his strong form in the tournament for his new club. Going away from the pitch, Neymar was always going to be a successful transfer from a commercial standpoint. He is already one of the most marketable footballers in the world, sponsored by Nike and with a huge social media following, so it’s fair to assume that his transfer will attract shirt sales. Currently, PSG have made approximately £8m in shirt sales having currently sold 120,000 shirts. They’re even at a point where they are running out of shirts to sell. This is a big step up and these are very big numbers for a club that isn’t yet as commercially viable as a club like Real Madrid as of yet. However, transferring in Neymar may finally allow them to liaise with the elite commercial giants of football. Whether it has been on the pitch or in the account books, Neymar so far has been a success.
What’s so special about Kylian Mbappe?
If you’ve been following football this year then it is very likely you would have heard of Kylian Mbappe. He took the world by storm last year as he broke into the Monaco first team, scoring 26 goals in 44 matches across all competitions. All of this, and he still only eighteen. Naturally after these performances every big club in Europe wanted him, and he was linked with multiple €100m moves away. Real Madrid and Arsenal were among other clubs, but it was PSG who were ultimately able to secure his services on the transfer deadline. They have only got him on loan, but they have an obligation to buy him next season for a reported fee of €145m plus add-ons, potentially making him the second most expensive player of all time, after Neymar.
While it is early in his career, he has had a bright start already scoring 2 goals in 3 matches, and he seems to be getting a spot as a starter alongside Neymar and Edinson Cavani, which has all the signs of being a lethal attacking trio. Provided he keeps his head straight and continues his red-hot form, Mbappe should forge himself as one of Europe’s elite attackers for years to come.
Where can it go wrong?
While it all seems well and good for PSG, there are still a lot of expectations placed on them. It won’t be enough for them to merely win Ligue 1, not with the money they’ve spent and the squad they now have. It is easily a squad that could compete on all fronts, including the Champions League. For them to not at least make the final or a semi-final you could consider their campaign in the competition to be a failure.
Financial Fair Play?
One big question facing their transfers is Financial Fair Play (FFP). Essentially, it is a rule that has been implemented by UEFA to control the spending by clubs, particularly those that have been backed by rich owners, such as PSG. If your spending exceeds your revenue, then you will be punished by UEFA for breaching FFP ruling. Although PSG have established themselves among Europe’s elite clubs, they don’t have the commercial or marketing power that you may see in a club like Real Madrid, or Manchester United. One would wonder how they could afford the transfers of Neymar and Mbappe in regards to keeping within FFP regulations. It was expected that they would sell a star player, such as Julian Draxler or Angel Di Maria in order to remain in a surplus of profits, but those players were not sold. They are currently under from investigation from UEFA as it stands, so they could potentially be hit with hefty punishments should they be found to have breached any laws.
Can they work together?
Another aspect with building a star-studded team is the management of all of the egos. Real Madrid work well as a club as Zinedine Zidane is a superb man-manager, he knows how to manage the egos of his players and get the best out of them. One major issue PSG face in this regard is the fact that its two big stars, Neymar and Cavani, both aim to be the talisman as opposed to playing in another’s shadow. Last season, Edinson Cavani finally left the shadow of the departed Zlatan Ibrahimovic and subsequently became one of the top scorers across Europe. Neymar this season has aimed to leave the shadow of Lionel Messi in order to show he can lead a team to glory, as opposed to relying on Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez. We’ve already seen them squabble over a penalty, as both players were filmed arguing over who got to take the team’s penalty against Lyon, as well as a free kick that they had earned. Manager Unai Emery must learn how to get the players to gel, otherwise these clashing personalities could cause PSG to capitulate and fail to meet their lofty expectations.
Whatever happens this season, it should make for a lot of entertainment. Time will tell whether they build a dynasty, or became a failed experiment.