The GFFN View: PSG need a full-time Sporting Director to oversee a complete squad rebuild

Another year, another unsuccessful Champions League season for Paris Saint-Germain. Les Parisiens fell 3-0 on aggregate at Bayern Munich in their eleventh consecutive attempt to win Europe’s premier club competition since Qatar took over.

First of all, it should be remembered that being eliminated from the Champions League, even so early in the knockout stages and against a club so immersed in European football history, is not all that shameful.

What is striking, however, is the gulf at every level between a multiple Champions League-winning team and a club that have spent £1bn over the past decade and still seem so far from becoming the second French team to do so wins Old Big Ears since Marseille 30 years ago. FC Bayern Munich has a clear organizational structure with former players Oliver Kahn and Hasan Salihamidžić as managing director and sporting director respectively. A stark contrast to PSG.

Nasser Al Khelaifi has been the club’s acting president since Qatar took over. But there is more. He has also been Minister without Portfolio in Qatar since 2013. Let’s not forget that he is also Chairman of the Board of the beIN Media Group and was recently appointed Chairman of the European Club Association. That’s all good for him, of course – but like you and me, Al Khelaifi’s day is 24 hours long. So how much of his time does he really devote to running Paris Saint-Germain, the fifth richest club in the world according to Deloitte? Reusing the French title of the 1980 film Airplane!is a pilot on the plane ?

The same goes for Luis Campos. The Portuguese director is not a manager per se. His real role is that of sports advisor, responsible for the organisation, recruitment and performance of the senior team. That’s a lot of responsibility considering the consultant is doing the same job for Celta Vigo.

But Campos was responsible for appointing head coach Christophe Galtier and was the driving force behind PSG’s recent squad-building, which as of now can be considered a failure.

Let’s look at yesterday’s substitutions. When Bayern coach Julian Nagelsmann had Serge Gnabry, Leroy Sané, Sadio Mané and João Cancelo to fall back on, Galtier could only rely on Juan Bernat, Nordi Mukiele, El Chadaille Bitshiabu, Warren Zaïre-Emery and Hugo Ekitike. How is that possible? How has the PSG hierarchy allowed their squad to withdraw so far? “Bayern have a team built to win the Champions League. At the beginning of the season, in the first Champions League press conference, I said we would do our best. That’s the maximum we can do.” admitted Kylian Mbappé in a seething assessment of where PSG sits in Europe’s football leaderboard – just below the top 16 teams.

It remains to be seen whether PSG’s hottest asset will want to stay at the club that made him their French frontman and franchise player. Will he have the patience to wait for a necessary restructuring of the sporting hierarchy? It is now clear that no matter who is on the bench, whether Unai Emery, Thomas Tuchel, Mauricio Pochettino or Galtier, the constant is that PSG needs a general overhaul. Should players who have been part of so many underperforming teams like Marquinhos, Marco Verratti or Neymar stay or go? What about the new signings who just don’t have enough show like Vitinha, Carlos Soler, Hugo Ekitike? The question can also be aimed at those who are too old to embody the future (Sergio Ramos and Lionel Messi).

Such a major transformation cannot be successful without a dedicated full-time sporting director with full operational power. They should be a performance architect who can bring success on the pitch and the fans on their side. A smooth operator capable of stalking and convincing young prospects to sign rather than expensive players who are past their prime and looking for a final paycheck. Otherwise the eleven years of pain would have been in vain.

GFFN | Bastien Cheval

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