Paris Saint-Germain took a massive step towards winning a first-ever UEFA Champions League title as they easily saw off the challenge from German team RB Leipzig in the semi-final to qualify for Sunday’s epic final.
Tuesday’s semi-final fixture was only the second time the French capital-based club played at that stage of the competition, a 25-year gap which included the club experience a sharp contrast in fortune, a merry-go-round that saw them go from title-contenders to a mid-table team, relegation battlers and now presently the undisputed champions of Ligue1.
All of these wouldn’t have been possible without the massive financial investment of the Qatar Sports Investment. At the start of the 21st century, PSG struggled to sustain the glory days of the previous era and spent two seasons starving off relegation’s which were only narrowly avoided and lost the fear factor once associated with the club, as Olympique Lyon held sway at the top during that period.
The takeover made PSG the richest club in France and one of the wealthiest globally, ranking fifth on the list of highest revenue generating teams in the world, 2018/19 according to renowned audit firm Deloitte.
In nine years of being majority shareholder at PSG, the Qatar Sports Investment group have invested over €1billion, attracting some of the games finest talents to France, won seven French League titles, achieved the league and cup double on five different occasions, but one major title remains missing, the UEFA Champions League!
At the time of completing the takeover, the investment group through the club chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi had set a five-year target to win the UEFA Champions League, but that didn’t exactly play out as initially projected; four successive quarter-final placements in the first four years and a hat-trick of round of 16 exits in the following three years created the impression, the PSG project was a massive failure on Europe’s grand stage!
The club even had a long-standing running battle with the Europe’s football governing body, UEFA, over repeated allegations of flouting the Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules, an issue which led to a £60m fine in 2014.
Investigations got further intense for the club upon signing Brazilian superstar Neymar for £200m in 2017 as a result of pressure from some of Europe’s biggest clubs and it only took a ruling by the Court of Arbitration for sport following an appeal by PSG for the investigation to be closed a year ago.
In the aftermath of the big-money Neymar and Kylian Mbappe purchase, the club appear to have toned down on its spending power in transfer fees and high-profile acquisition. Rather they have focused on balancing the books, making profit from the sale of Serge Aurier, Lucas Moura, Javier Pastore, Yuri Berchiche, Goncalo Guedes, Giovani Lo Celso, Christopher Nkunku and a host of others.
Another new direction being embarked by the club has to be the promotion and integration of academy graduates Presnel Kimpembe, Colin Dagba and the now departed trio of Timothy Weah, Nkunku and Tanguy Kouassi.
The consistency with spending and relative managerial stability (five coaches in nine years) is finally about to yield dividend on Europe’s big-stage, German manager Thomas Tuchel the “chosen one” on the verge of leading PSG to the biggest title in the clubs history.
Just like Premier League heavyweights Chelsea, who took nine years to win the UEFA Champions League backed by the spending power in the Roman Abramovich era, that model is about to be replicated across the channel in France, only after world record transfer fees and almost a decade of the project running the risk of being a failure. Ici c’est Paris!