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Mbappe effect keeps PSG out of reach as Ligue 1 attracts foreign investors

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Kylian Mbappé’s decision to stay at Paris Saint-Germain has been seen as a boon for French football, but it certainly rules out any chance of a title race as the new Ligue 1 season kicks off this weekend.

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France coach Didier Deschamps said Mbappé “shed a positive light on the championship abroad” by deciding to sign a new three-year contract to stay in his country, a decision that President Emmanuel Macron admitted he advised the striker to make.

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French league president Vincent Labrune insisted Mbappé’s new deal sent “a strong signal for the present and future of our league”.

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In fact, moving overseas is likely to happen soon for a player who is confident that he will one day win the Ballon d’Or.

However, the opportunity to lead Qatari-owned PSG to Champions League glory will motivate Mbappe this season, along with a World Cup defense with France in Qatar in November and December.

Mbappé is a dominant figure in Paris despite the presence of Lionel Messi and Neymar and the arrival of a new manager at a club whose league triumph last season was overshadowed by their Champions League round of 16 exit against Real Madrid.

Coach Mauricio Pochettino and sporting director Leonardo were replaced by Christophe Galtier and Luis Campos, respectively.

The Portuguese super scout Campos has been appointed to the position of football advisor. He built the last two teams that stripped PSG of the title: Monaco in 2017 and Lille in 2021.

Galtier, the best French manager of the last decade, was Lille manager and spent last season in charge of Nice, but he knows there will be much more pressure in Paris.

– “Win it all” –

“When you come to PSG, you have an obligation to get results,” he told sports magazine L’Equipe.

“We need to break records. In all modesty, I came to Paris to win everything.”

For internal rivals PSG, the reality is that second place and automatic qualification for the Champions League is the best they can hope for in Ligue 1.

Marseille finished second last season, but this summer has been a tumultuous one for the club owned by American mogul Frank McCourt.

Hot-tempered Argentine coach Jorge Sampaoli left and was replaced by former Croatian international Igor Tudor.

Key players in Boubacar Kamara, William Saliba and Steve Mandanda are all gone and pre-season results are not encouraging.

Monaco had to settle for third last season and qualified for the Champions League as a result.

If they can negotiate safely, they will be well positioned for a successful campaign despite the loss of outstanding midfielder Aurélien Chuameni to Real Madrid.

The teams that finished in the top five last season have big ambitions again.

Rennes, owned by billionaire François Pinault, should be competitive while Nice’s British owner Ineos is looking to secure a Champions League spot under Swiss manager Lucien Favre, who is back for a second term.

Meanwhile, Lyon are vying for a return to the top three after finishing eighth in the last campaign.

– Lyon in the hands of the Americans –

They brought back two former stars in Alexandre Lacazette and Corentin Tolisso, and this summer has also been a busy one in the boardroom.

American businessman John Textor, who owns Brazilian club Botafogo and has a stake in Crystal Palace, agreed to the deal to become the majority shareholder of Lyon.

“At first I was looking at much smaller clubs in France,” Textor told L’Equipe. He then discovered that Lyon might be up for sale. “I should have taken the chance.”

The arrival of Textor is in line with a growing trend of foreign investors in Ligue 1 clubs and the league itself.

Private equity firm CVC Capital Partners has agreed to invest €1.5 billion to buy a 13 percent stake in the newly formed Liga 1 trading company.

This means a significant injection of money for clubs, although PSG will receive around €200m, much more than their rivals.

While Saint-Étienne and crisis-ridden Bordeaux were relegated, Auxerre returned a decade later and Toulouse, owned by American investment firm RedBird, was also promoted.

Their focus will be on avoiding relegation with four teams relegated at the end of the season as the league is cut from 20 to 18 clubs.

The World Cup means Ligue 1 is ditching its usual Christmas hiatus, with the first round of matches after Qatar set for December 28, with other games set for January 1.



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