Everything must change! Everything is going to change ! At Paris-Saint-Germain, it is now the official mantra. After the new failure recorded in the Champions League – elimination in the round of 16 by Real Madrid in March – and a championship season certainly sealed by a new title, but not very convincing in terms of the game and sometimes a bit chaotic, the management of the capital football club raised its voice.
“Maybe we should change the slogan. “Dream big” [“rêvons plus grand”], that is fine, but today, first of all, we must be realistic. We don’t want glitz anymore, bling-bling, it’s the end of glitter.” said Nasser Al-Khelaïfi, president of PSG, in an interview with Parisianon June 22, as soon as the 2021-2022 page is turned.
With Ligue 1 regaining their rights from Friday 5 August and a first match for them on Saturday night in Clermont-Ferrand, the time has come for the Parisians to prove that this change of era is a reality.
Two men were in charge of embodying it: the Portuguese Luis Campos and the French Christophe Galtier, respectively new “football advisor” and new coach. They succeeded Leonardo and Mauricio Pochettino, both dismissed at the end of last season. In Paris, Luis Campos and Christophe Galtier rebuild a couple that had worked well at Lille: there they had reconfigured LOSC, leading the club to the national title, ahead of… PSG, at the end of the 2020-2021 season.
But Lille is not Paris (and vice versa). If Christophe Galtier, 55, former coach of AS Saint-Etienne, LOSC and then OGC Nice (where he had a contrasting 2021-2022 season), is recognized in France as a brilliant coach, he has never had to deal with such an assembly. big ego before.
Although he assured, upon his arrival at the beginning of July, that with him he would be “The collective first, without commitment”It remains to be seen whether the club’s management will give him the power to enforce his authority. Which has not always been the case with his predecessors. “I just like football. And at a club like this, it’s not always just football.” confided Thomas Tuchel in December 2020, a few days before his dismissal.
The failed search for the Champions League
In addition, Christophe Galtier has not had the slightest victory in the Champions League: the only campaign he has managed in continental competition -with Lille- turned into a fiasco (no wins, one draw and five losses in 2019-2020). However, the Champions League is the pending issue since 2011 and the entry of the club within Qatar Sports Investments.
For more than a decade, billions have been invested, superstars have triumphed, but there has yet to be a European coronation. Worse yet, the Champions League seems to cause major “blocks” among Parisian players, as evidenced by Real Madrid’s elimination last season: when they won 1-0 in the first leg, they fell 3-1 in the second leg, conceding three goals. in seventeen minutes, in a setting reminiscent of the “raised” inflicted by Barcelona in 2017 and Manchester United in 2019.
One of the first decisions of the new PSG management could be to tackle this ‘blockade’. This summer, the club would have decided to launch a psychological monitoring of its players. “PSG have been thinking about it since the slap they received against Real Madrid. Therefore, a full-time psychologist could be hired”has announced The team, in its July 25 issue. Requested by The world, the club “does not confirm the information”without bringing any formal denial.
There are “So many things around football, so many things in the head, that it is not easy to stay focused for more than ninety minutes”, Leonardo tried to explain, on June 16, in an interview with The teamabout these “raised”. Or how to evoke the mental aspect without naming it.
“Of course there is a trauma”, points out Denis Troch, a mental coach in high-level sport, particularly in Ligue 1. “ Even if you want to forget those fears, those fears, there will be journalists who will remind you that you lost against Real, Manchester United and Barça. You have to protect yourself from that, you can learn, “ continues the former coach, champion of France in 1994 with PSG as assistant to Arthur Jorge.
Denis Troch confesses that they had contacted him to carry out mental preparation work with PSG shortly before the “raised” at the Camp Nou, in 2017. But that was not done. “I think after that match, they didn’t want to show their flaws.” he explains.
Christophe Galtier is open in this regard: he works with a mental coach. “Surely I am one of the few to talk about mental preparation, about having someone to lean on to unload a lot of things”said on a podcast The teamin March 2021.
Work with a reduced workforce
The declared desire of Parisian leaders to “dream small” also applies to recruitment. Previous seasons have shown that the “big names” don’t always meet the needs of the team, starting with seven-time Argentine Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi, whose first season fell short of expectations.
If PSG has extended the contract of its best player -and ambassador- Kylian Mbappé until 2025, the arrival of defender Nordi Mukiele (24), recruited for 12 million euros at RB Leipzig (Germany), and that of attacker Hugo Ekitike (20), from Reims (on loan with an option to buy), are less striking than those, in the summer of 2021, of Lionel Messi, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Sergio Ramos or Achraf Hakimi.
The club also spent more than 40 million euros to attract midfielder Vitinha (22 years old, who played for FC Porto) and paid around 15 million euros for playmaker Renato Sanches, who played for Lille. These Portuguese internationals are represented by Jorge Mendes, an agent close to Luis Campos. “Campos is someone who is always one step ahead. It’s important for PSG, who used to make last-minute moves in the transfer window.emphasizes Eric Rabesandratana, a former PSG player, now an adviser at the microphone of France Bleu.
It remains for the club to resolve the issue of departures. Another problem that he has never been able to handle in recent years during the transfer window, players build up in layers. Before going to play a series of friendly matches in Japan in July, Christophe Galtier declared his desire to work with a reduced squad.
For what effect? Not invited to this tour of Japan, defenders Layvin Kurzawa and Thilo Kehrer, midfielders Rafinha, Ander Herrera, Julian Draxler and Georginio Wijnaldum are among the “undesirables”. So far, aside from the latter, on loan to AS Roma for one season with an option to buy, none of these other high-salaried players have yet been sold and they train in a separate group from the main team at the Camp des Loges. For them, “the end of sequins” it started to make sense.
Kylian Mbappé package
We will have to wait a little longer before we see Kylian Mbappé return to the pitch. The PSG striker, injured in the adductors, will miss the trip to Clermont, on Saturday at the opening of Ligue 1. He “He will remain under care at the training center. A new point will be made in 72 hours”the club said. As in the Champions Trophy, won against Nantes on Sunday July 31 (4-0), he will have to be replaced by the Spanish Pablo Sarabia.
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