Paris Saint-Germain Have Cash, but Lack Style
When the oil-rich Qatari Investment Authority purchased a majority stake in Paris Saint-Germain in 2011, they added another name to the growing list of football clubs with bottomless pockets.
In the past two seasons, Les Rouge-et-Bleu have spent millions of Euros attracting top talent from around the world and now boast the likes of Thiago Silva, Ezequiel Lavezzi, Thiago Motta and Javier Pastore. And of course, lest we forget Ligue 1's leading goalscorer, a man who makes most rap superstars sound modest, Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
With spending power that eclipses anyone else in French football, PSG are truly banking on the maxim that money buys success. It's certainly a proven formula: Sides like Chelsea, Manchester City and Zenit St Petersburg have all reaped silverware with the assistance of petrodollar-rich sugar daddies.
It is early days for the PSG "project" (as Zlatan clinically refers to his new side's current era) but so far the owners have nothing to show for their investment. In the league last year, they couldn't surpass the efforts of a modestly financed Montpellier side. Athletic Bilbao and Red Bull Salzburg stopped them progressing to the knockout phase of last season's Europa League.
This week, they crashed out of the Coupe de la Ligue, France's league cup, when captain Thiago Silva failed to convert during a penalty shootout.
PSG are worth more than the GDP of many nations, but they have won just seven of 14 league games this season. Currently there are only two points between the top five teams, and another slip-up could prove costly for a team who generally don't take cost into consideration.
Les Parisiens' problems appear to stem from the fact that they do not play as a cohesive unit. They boast a team of talented players whose individual skills have belied the fact that their teamwork often leaves much to be desired.
PSG are much like an unsuccessful Formula 1 racing team: They compete with a product assembled from the finest components from around the world, but they have not been configured and engineered with the nous and experience to make them world-beaters.
The engineer of the team, of course, is Carlo Ancelotti. The Italian double European Cup-winning Italian has achieved countless feats in his managerial career, but his current side play with very little style. Even when they win big, like the recent 4-0 triumph over freshly promoted Troyes, they look unsettled and often lack the composure to finish chances.
If media speculation is to be believed, PSG's solution is to throw money at the problem. As the January window approaches, the French side have been linked with Falcao, David Beckham, Cristiano Ronaldo, Mario Balotelli (imagine the fireworks if Balotelli and Zlatan were on the same side!) and just about every other high-profile forward in the game.
These transfer rumours point to the lack of balance in the PSG side too: None of the aforementioned players are defenders.
Take a look at the current PSG roster. How many of their defenders are truly world class? The list doesn't extend very far beyond a Brazilian named Thiago Silva. Ashley Cole cannot arrive soon enough.
As Roberto Mancini's Manchester City have demonstrated, building a dominant side takes time. In the beautiful game, one cannot expect to inject eye-watering amounts of cash and gets instant results. Rome was not built in a day.
But before reaching for the check book to bring in another "box office" signing, Ancelotti's side must search for their identity and forge a cohesive playing style. The kind of cohesive playing style that recent league champions Montpellier and Borussia Dortmund exhibited without spending irresponsible amounts of money. The kind of cohesive playing style that is forged by resisting the temptation to rotate the squad through European and domestic campaigns.
This week, Zlatan Ibrahimovic told the press that he believes his team can win the Champions League within the next two seasons. Manchester City and Chelsea have proven that this timescale is extremely optimistic, but as the team are given time to mature together in the next few years, major European silverware is a realistic prospect.
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