PSG need a clear-out after another UCL failure. Time for Messi, Ramos, Neymar, Galtier to go?
They’ve been here before, of course. The same disappointment, the same shortcomings, the same mistakes, the same elimination, the same regrets. Paris Saint-Germain knows all too well what it’s like to crash early in the Champions League. It’s another round of 16 exit, this time against Bayern Munich, who weren’t even that impressive in two legs. But Joshua Kimmich & Co. didn’t have to be like that, because PSG made life easier for the Bavarians after all.
This is another failed European campaign, like many others. PSG manager Christophe Galtier, who spent his first and possibly last season on the bench, can blame injuries before Wednesday’s game (Neymar, Prenel Kimpembe) and during the match (Marquinhos, Nordi Mukiele). He could also point to the fact that PSG ended the game with two 17-year-olds on the pitch in Warren Zaire-Emery and El Shadail Bitshiaba, but Galtier will know he bears most of the responsibility for his team’s failure.
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But as the PSG manager mentioned the squad in the post-match press conference, let’s start with that. Kylian Mbappé also talked about the quality of the two squads: “If you look at the two teams, they have a great team, a great squad, they have a team built to win the Champions League. I said at our first press conference in the Champions League. at the beginning of the season that we will do our best in this competition. And this is our maximum … it’s true.
Mbappe is right. PSG don’t have a team as good in terms of quality or quantity as Bayern Munich or Manchester City. The lack of hiring in January was staggering as the team clearly needed reinforcements and some of the last summer’s signings (Carlos Soler, Hugo Ekitike) didn’t work out. Luis Campos, PSG’s relatively new sporting director and close ally of Mbappe, has been under pressure since the first two transfer windows.
The question is not to spend more money this summer, but to recruit wisely. Already, summer goals are not like the “bling bling” strategy of the past. While Milan Skriniar will arrive in the summer as a free agent, targets such as Randal Colo Muani, Manu Kone and Kefren Thuram are all rumored to be young, talented and all from Paris.
This group of players needs a major overhaul. The detachment needs a clearing and new faces, among which there are young people, and there are also more experienced ones. The icon will be at the center of the recovery work. He is a project. Neymar will be offered to other clubs, but he is unlikely to leave due to lack of interest from potential suitors. Meanwhile, neither Lionel Messi nor Sergio Ramos should be renewing their contract because they are nearing the end of their careers, while PSG needs stars to take them to the top level.
This line-up let the club and its fans down because collectively they weren’t good enough, but the individual players didn’t do it either. Mbappe himself was well-received by Dayot Upamecano and Bayern’s defense on Wednesday. It had virtually no effect on the game. Messi was ineffective. Marco Verratti, who is in his 30s, has lost his magic. Ramos, now 36, can only play in the back three. Then there is the problem with Neymar; with his form, his injury record and a huge contract that runs for another four years. The list goes on. During the Champions League campaign, this is too much restriction for such a team.
Despite all this, PSG did really well in the first half in Munich. They had more chances – it’s hard to believe how Vitinha missed a goal right before half-time – and they controlled the pace of the game well, but could not keep it after the break. Verratti gifted the goal to Bayern, and when a push from the bench was needed to save the draw, there was almost no talent to fall back on.
PSG are too dependent on Mbappe and as much as he loves and needs it, it’s not viable against top teams. You need more than just the best player in the world. As we saw on Wednesday, even he can’t do everything himself. PSG needs a strong team full of strong personalities. They need some game patterns, some movement, some control, some certainty. At the moment this is not the case.
But to implement these ideas, you need the right manager. Is Galtier right for the job? He has already shown several times this season that he is not good enough for this level and admitted after Wednesday’s game that he had lost a tactical battle to Bayern boss Julian Nagelsmann. Galtier will end the season with the mandatory Ligue 1 title and have one more year left on his contract.
However, now no one can guarantee that he will remain on the bench next season. What is the point of keeping Galtier for another year if the club is at the dawn of a new cycle? The Frenchman has always felt like a substitute for another, better manager.
PSG need someone to build a competitive team with style and philosophy, like Erik ten Hag and Mikel Arteta did at Manchester United and Arsenal respectively, or like Jurgen Klopp did at Liverpool seven and a half years ago. Zinedine Zidane is still the dream of PSG’s Qatari owners. Can he come this summer? Certainly. Will he? Maybe, but only under certain great conditions. Will he be the right choice for the new cycle? This is far from accurate.
The Qataris are clearly very disappointed with the result in Munich, but have not yet decided on the future of the coach. What they already know is that summer is supposed to be big. It’s time to get to work so you don’t endure another night like Wednesday next season.