Following Paris Saint-Germain securing their first Ligue 1 title in 19 years last week, the capital club celebrated the right way, bidding farewell to David Beckham with a victory over Brest on Saturday.
A day later, though, coach Carlo Ancelotti rocked the club by revealing that he wants to quit PSG for Real Madrid. The story first surfaced Sunday afternoon—broken by beIN Sport’s French branch, via ESPN FC—before sporting director Leonardo confirmed the negative talks swiftly afterward to L’Equipe (in French).
Leionardo did reveal, however, that the request has been denied by the club. Les Parisiens are intent on keeping the two-time Champions League-winning coach for next season as part of their assault on Europe’s top prize.
Ancelotti’s request brings an end to the speculation that has plagued him and the club over recent weeks and also overshadowed a first domestic title victory since 1994. The Italian has confirmed his interest in leaving for the Santiago Bernabeu, which had been the main point of debate, and now the club seem to be intent on keeping him out of their clutches.
That would include keeping Ancelotti against his will. It is a potentially foolish move for PSG, who are now set to pay for their rash decision to put their highly respected coach under pressure late last year when results were not going the way of Les Rouge-et-Bleus.
Now, with so few suitable options on the market to choose from, Al-Khelaifi and Leonardo are in a difficult position.
Ancelotti is undoubtedly the best man for the job, but despite his investments in the project, he wants to call it a day. PSG are primed for success once again next season, but losing the Italian risks destroying that momentum (not to mention losing the faith of some of the ambitious strategy’s most valuable stars).
If PSG want a long-term project manager, Arsenal’s qualification for the Champions League on the final day of the Premier League season have likely put to rest any lingering hopes that Arsene Wenger would reconsider his previous stance on leaving the Gunners (via ESPN FC).
Otherwise, the only option they have is Malaga’s Manuel Pellegrini and to hope that they can beat Manchester City to his signature. Rafa Benitez and Roberto Mancini are other possibilities, but neither seems an immediate fit.
In terms of short-term success, Real’s current coach, Jose Mourinho, would be a better fit. Capable of taking over a solid team left over by Ancelotti, the "Special One" would no doubt thrive to start as he has done in the wake of two previous Italian tacticians, Claudio Ranieri at Chelsea and Mancini at Inter Milan.
The difficulty in that—if PSG indeed do decide to pursue Mourinho—is that he appears set to join Chelsea, according to latest reports from ESPN FC. That perhaps explains Les Parisiens' reluctance to part with Ancelotti at this point.
For Real Madrid, though, this news means, among other things, possibly keeping Mourinho a little bit longer than desired.
The Portuguese is set to sit down with Florentino Perez at the end of the season, but his position has reportedly become increasingly untenable. His antics during Real Madrid’s 2-1 Copa del Rey defeat to rivals Atletico could even see him sacked before Ancelotti’s position becomes any clearer.
Los Merengues’ position is easier than that of PSG though, and with nothing left to play for and the Italian now clearly keen to go to the Spanish capital, it is a question of patience.
One of Ancelotti’s biggest perceived problems in France has been the hands-on role of sporting director Leonardo, whose direct interference has irritated the former Chelsea coach. It is by no means guaranteed that the same thing won’t happen in Madrid.
For now, though, it appears that whether PSG like it or not, Carlo Ancelotti is on his way to Madrid. The Italian claimed the Ligue 1 coach of the year award (sharing it with Saint-Etienne’s Christophe Galtier), but his silverware collection in the French capital looks set to end there.