FT French Ligue 1 Preview: PSG must win the UEFA Champions League to keep Neymar
The Brazilian sensation left Barcelona in a bid to step out of Messi’s shadow and achieve his goals of winning the Ballon d’Or at the French giants Paris-Saint Germain. He hoped that the club’s recruitment policy would give him an edge when the tournament commences and that they would be able to recruit the best players who would be able to compete at the highest level. Last season, PSG failed to make it past Real Madrid in the round-of-16. This year, they will have to do better than that if they are to stand a chance to fend off interest from the likes of Real Madrid in keeping their star player at the club. In this feature story, we look at how the club can be able to win the title.
The recruitment of the Italian and Juventus legend, Gianluigi Buffon to beef up their goalkeeper position is nothing but a positive signing for the club. The legend brings his vast amount of experience to a squad that looked out of character when they were dispatched by Real Madrid last year. PSG needed a commanding number 1, and they have got their man who will organise his defence and hopefully prevent the best players in the world from scoring past him. Apart from that, he also brings his winning mentality. Buffon won the last 7 Serie A titles in a row with Juve and is also a 2006 FIFA World Cup winner. He has been around for a long time and knows how to compete. The UEFA Champions League title is a trophy that has eluded him, and he will be as hungry as Neymar to win it this year.
Football is a team sport. Neymar cannot win the trophy on his own. He will need his teammates to bring their A game to the table if they really want him to stay at the Parc des Princes. This means that players like Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani have to bring their World Cup form to Paris and help Neymar push for the title. The former is a teenage sensation who shined at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia but was went hiding when PSG faced Real Madrid in the 2017/18 season. He should be looking to grow from that experience and carry his form into the coming season. Cavani was also at the focal point of Uruguay’s success at the tournament before picking up an injury that kept him out of the squad that was eliminated by France. The whole team has to be at their best this season and play to Neymar’s strengths if they want him to lead them to European glory.
There are rumours that PSG wants to sign N’Golo Kante from Chelsea this season. The 27-year old is a midfield destroyer who has been at the heart of successes of the best teams in recent years. He first led his club Leicester to the EPL title in 2015/16 before winning it again the following year with Chelsea. This year, he was trusted with the defensive responsibilities in the French team that lifted the 2018 FIFA World Cup trophy. N’Golo Kante is famous for stopping Messi, arguably the world’s best player, in his tracks and preventing Argentina from making it to the quarter-final stage. PSG need a player like Kante who could strike a partnership with Marco Verratti in the spine of the French team and protect the backline. Whether the club will actually get to sign him from the English side remains to be seen, but it is clear that they would stand a better chance of winning the most prized asset in European club football if they have the defensive midfielder on their books.
Sometimes a good run in the tournament requires some bit of luck. The draw did not favour the club in the previous season. PSG were unfortunate to face the defending champions in the round-of-16 in the 2017/18 season . This year, they would want to avoid the biggest teams in the tournament at the early stage as they build momentum. However, some argue that you have to beat the best teams in the competition to be called the best. What do you think that PSG has to do to keep Neymar at the club after this season?