The Story so far.. Project Saint-Germain

In continuation to the last post of Project Malaga, this is a second part which will look at Project Saint-Germain.

Paris Saint-Germain F.C. is simply known as PSG worldwide, play in Ligue 1, which is French football league.

PSG is relatively a younger club, being formed in 1970 by merger of Paris FC and Stade Saint-Germain. After working their way up to Ligue 1 for initial 4 years, PSG has been playing in France’s top flight football ever since.

Also, PSG are one of only two French club sides, who have won European accolades. Although PSG has a European Cup Winners Cup, UEFA Intertoto Cup, two Ligue 1 titles, eight Cup titles and three League Cup titles to their credit, they still were called underachievers. Lately Lyon and Marseille have been top French sides where as PSG were being considered as Pensioners Saint-Germain who were often lost in tales of Ronaldinho and Anelka from the past.

As expected, PSG finished 4th in 2010-11 season which was their best finish since 2004.

Little they knew, that the scenario will chance so fast.

On May 31 2011, PSG declared that Qatar Investment Authority, an Investment arm of Qatari Government has bought controlling 70% stake in the club. This sale is estimated around €50 M, wiping out the debts and losses of the past.

Thus arrived Nasser Al-Khaleaïfi as a first Non French president of the club, actually acting on behalf of Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani. Unlike Malaga, who started their project on a low note, Nasser produced a 5-year plan to take PSG on European Football summit.

Nasser said, “PSG has an enormous potential – they are the only big football club in a city of 12 million inhabitants! That’s unique in Europe. Our aim is to qualify for the Champions League every year as of 2012. Then, from 2015, we want to play a major role in Le Championnat. We don’t want to sign Lionel Messi, but we want to invest in the big stars of tomorrow from all over the world, including France.” Nasser opened oil dipped pockets of the owners and released €100 M kitty for the rebuilding.

PSG wasted no time in trading a path of direct success. Leonardo was appointed as Director of Football, Claude Makelele retired as a player and took the post of an advisor.

Club splashed a record €89 M in the summer. €46 M were spent in signing Kevin Gamiro (FW) from Lorient, Diego Lugano (DF) from Fenerbahce, Momo Sissoko (MF) from Juve, Milan Bisevac (DF) from Valenciennes, Jeremy Menez (FW) from Roma, Blasi Matuidi (MF) from Saint-Etienne and Salvatore Sirigu (GK) came from Palermo.

And then came a marquee signing of 2011. Much coveted Javier Pastore, too arrived from Palermo for €43 M, making him most expensive player in Ligue1.

PSG started the league season with a disappointing 0-1 defeat to Lorient at home. But then PSG bandwagon went on 12 games undefeated,winning 9 times and drawing 3. After back to back defeats in week 14-15, they have again gone on 8 matches (7W,1D) unbeaten streak.

But after PSG tasted humiliating Europa League group stage exit and round of 16 League Cup defeat, change at the managerial post was seen as the answer by the owners. So the current manager Antoine Kombouaré who stabilized the squad and took PSG to the top of the league, was let go by mutual consent and Carlo Ancelotti was appointed as a new manager on 30th Dec, on a 2.5 yrs contract.

Amongst all this frenzied activities in the boardroom, on the pitch PSG have adopted 4-2-3-1 formation. Sirigu at the goal, in the defence of Ceará, Camara, Sakho, Tiéné. Holding midfield of Matuidi and Boder, On the Left wing Nenê, Pastore playing behind the striker Gameiro and Ménez on the right wing have formed a consistent line up.

PSG have adopted an possession football approach with short passing being the main style of play. Although they have enjoyed 54% average possession, the goals haven’t been flowing freely. In 22 League games, only 38 goals have been scored. That means only 1.7 Goals have been scored per game from average 5 shorts on target. This suggest only 34% of shots being converted in goals.

The defence however, has been tight, only 19 goals have been shipped. A staggering average 413 (84%) passes per game have been coming as short passes. Only 25 assists means that more goals have been scored by means on individual talent, than a team effort.

In the January transfer window, the club has further spent €20 M on Maxwell (LB) from Barcelona, Alex (CB) from Chelsea and Thiago Motta (CM) from Inter. PSG also lured Carlos Tevez by their big money power.

Ancelotti’s arrival has further elevated the mood in the camp. PSG currently are top of the Ligue 1 tables, with 49 points from 22 games, and are on a track of domestic double of League and French Cup.

Where Project Malaga is getting on at a very slow pace, Project Saint-Germain has been going on full steam ahead.


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