Not since Real Madrid’s famous ‘Galácticos’ squad of the 2000s has a single club boasted so much individual talent.
Paris Saint-Germain’s dramatic capture of Lionel Messi – which will undoubtedly go down as one of the most shocking in football history – capped off what had already been an incredible summer of talent accumulation.
But can this squad deliver Qatar Sports Investments (QSI), who bought PSG in 2011, the Champions League – the trophy the owners crave the most, but has so far eluded them?
Messi’s addition to PSG not only provides Qatar with another feather in its football cap, but – given the Argentine’s status as one of the greatest players of all time – also puts the club and its owners considerably closer to achieving their ultimate goal.
The signings of highly-rated goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, Messi’s long-time adversary Sergio Ramos, Georginio Wijnaldum and Achraf Hakimi – added to an already stacked squad that includes Neymar and Kylian Mbappé – mean PSG will unquestionably be the overwhelming favorite to lift this season’s Champions League.
“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.”
At PSG, Messi will work under coach Mauricio Pochettino, a former player of the Parisian club and a fellow Argentine.
“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.
No pressure, then, Mauricio.
PSG ‘ideal’ for Messi
But it’s a sentiment that Messi appears to agree with.
In an interview with CNN after his arrival in Paris, the Argentine said he believes PSG is the “ideal” place for him to finally win another Champions League title.
Despite Messi’s consistently superlative individual performances over the years, the one blemish on his record in recent seasons has been his inability to again lead Barcelona to European football’s most coveted prize – although it is widely argued that the Catalan club’s ineptitude in building a suitable squad around him was the root cause of this.
That, however, will not be the case at PSG, a club now stacked with an eye-watering amount of talent and a visceral desire to win a first Champions League 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 unquestionably the most talented attack in world football and will give opposition defenders and managers nightmares trying to conjure up ways 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 pitch, though, questions have already been asked about PSG’s finances and how the club has been able to get around the Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations.
“We’re always attentive to Financial Fair Play. It’s the first thing we check with the commercial, financial and legal people before signing someone,” PSG chairman and CEO Nass