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Paris Saint-Germain Face Identity Crisis

Paris Saint-Germain Face Identity Crisis

In the seven matches Paris Saint-Germain have played since April 7th, the club have managed to win just one. Whilst the French Ligue 1 title was already essentially secured, this run of poor results repeatedly delayed their coronation until a 3-1 victory over Monaco. Defeat to Rennes in the French Cup final has left Thomas Tuchel ending his debut campaign in France with just one trophy, a return that is quite simply unacceptable for PSG at this point.

Things got no better when PSG slipped to a 3-2 defeat at Montpellier, despite leading 2-1 going into the final five minutes of the match, before they drew 1-1 with Nice on May 4th. There is a clear identity crisis at the Parc des Princes at this moment, and it’s difficult to remember such a poor run of results since the QSI investment arrived.

What’s curious about the situation though, is that Nasser Al-Khelaifi has already nailed his colours to the mast by handing the German coach a contract extension until June 2021, although an official announcement has yet to be made. Having also labelled the former Borussia Dortmund coach as the best in the world, the club’s president is in a difficult position with regards to dismissing the German.

All previous coaches of the club have been dismissed when there has been such a poor return domestically, and Tuchel has hardly fared better in the Champions League after the club’s spectacular collapse against Manchester United. However, there seems to be a belief in Tuchel from the PSG hierarchy that no other coach under QSI rule has been afforded.

Carlo Ancelotti was constantly looking over his shoulder, Laurent Blanc felt like a permanent sitting duck and Unai Emery left those around him confused with his tactical decisions and inability to manage the team’s superstars.

Thus, PSG are facing a potentially defining summer where Tuchel is given a squad overhaul. Neymar’s future will always be under question with Real Madrid desperate to sign him, and it could well be that the Brazilian is sacrificed to allow the former Mainz coach to truly stamp his mark on the team.

“You can’t get into a fight with a spectator, you just can’t do that,”

These were the words of Tuchel in the aftermath of Neymar’s altercation with a Rennes supporter after defeat in the French Cup final. Having missed a crucial part of the team’s season through injury yet again, you wonder if Neymar is proving more trouble than he’s worth in Paris, especially when Kylian Mbappe has arguably overtaken him in terms of importance to the team.

Despite showing a clear disregard for Financial Fair Play rules, PSG’s recruitment since the dual-arrival of Neymar and Mbappe has been bizarre. Tuchel was desperate to be reunited with Julian Weigl in the summer, yet this didn’t happen and PSG eventually signed Leandro Paredes, a player who has done nothing but disappoint since joining.

It seems as though there is a caution not to overspend by PSG’s hierarchy, but they are stockpiling players who don’t appear good enough to challenge for the Champions League. The defence is ageing and the German coach will have to address that, and it seems as though this run of defeats has shone a spotlight on just where the club have gone wrong in their market endeavours in recent seasons. Adrien Rabiot will leave the club on a free transfer in the summer, despite being in his prime, and the German coach has been forced to work without him for the past few months.

What do PSG stand for at the moment? Nobody knows. They have won a one-horse race at an absolute canter in the league, but have failed in every single other competition. This isn’t acceptable for a club that has spent such vast sums of money in recent seasons. Yet, in Tuchel, there is finally a coach with a style of play that satisfies Al-Khelaifi and this is vitally important. The president of the club believes Tuchel can improve players whilst maintaining such an attacking style, and it’s worth remembering just how irresistible some of the team’s football was in the first leg against Manchester United.

It would be easy for the club to sack Tuchel after this abysmal run, and then appoint a high-profile name in Antonio Conte or Jose Mourinho, although the latter is far more likely to return to Internazionale. But, in such a scenario, the club would face the same problems and be forced to buy players for another different head coach. Tuchel has shown himself capable of getting a team to play in the style the PSG hierarchy want, and it could well be that they need to now build a team for him.

Whether this means abandoning their Modus Operandi of signing high-profile players for sizable fees is another matter, but it certainly seems as though the summer of 2019 will be a crossroads moment for PSG, and for the time being, one which the current coach will be allowed to battle through.

 

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