The Argument for PSG to Keep Leonardo Despite His Extended Ban
So many reasons seemingly back up the idea that Paris Saint-Germain should now consider getting rid of sporting director Leonardo after his nine-month ban was extended to 12 after an appeal.
However, there are still a few factors that PSG should take into account before parting ways with the Brazilian.
Had the French champions not appealed against the initial nine-month ban for shoving referee Alexandre Castro after PSG’s 1-1 home draw with Valenciennes in May, the 43-year-old would have been back in action before the end of the season.
But with Leonardo now unable to perform his official club role during domestic and European match days until June 30, 2014, it significantly weakens his previously strong position in the French capital.
Or does it?
The fact that the former AC and Inter Milan supremo is reportedly close to tying up a deal for sought-after Napoli striker Edinson Cavani according to Sky Italia (h/t ESPN FC) suggests that he has every intention of staying at PSG.
Indeed, Jean-Claude Blanc, one of the club’s representatives at the appeal over Leonardo’s ban, claimed that he missed a court appearance in order to “negotiate with a great player.”
Football-Italia.net further suggests the club will attempt to bring in the Uruguayan sensation.
Should the Brazilian succeed in luring the 26-year-old "Matador" as he is known, his stock with the capital club will never have been higher.
That, despite the public embarrassment caused by the suspension farce.
Pulling off such a high-end of the market move would also demonstrate that the former PSG player can still fulfil his position’s objectives at Parc des Princes, despite the hefty ban.
It should also be considered that without Leonardo, Les Parisiens’ first title win in 19 years last season might not have happened, and the project could have even failed by now.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva, Lucas Moura, Ezequiel Lavezzi, Salvatore Sirigu, Marco Verratti and David Beckham are, or were, all key players for PSG. Thanks to Leonardo’s contacts, or personal relationships, PSG have bought them along with many others.
Even former coach Carlo Ancelotti, who helped the club cement their current position, arrived in place of Antoine Kombouare in late 2011 largely because of his excellent relationship with the Brazilian.
Perhaps that had soured in the build-up to the Italian’s departure to Real Madrid, but Ancelotti is staying tight-lipped on that for now.
Even if Leonardo had a hand in his good friend separating from PSG, he had a bigger hand in bringing him to France in the first place.
The club should not forget that.
For now, the PSG hierarchy appear to be backing the under-fire sporting director and have issued an official statement “reiterating total confidence” in the Brazilian, according to an official statement on the club’s website in English.
Whether or not this is just a temporary smokescreen while he completes negotiations for Cavani and perhaps one or two other players before slipping away quietly, remains to be seen.
But the club, rightly, are staying loyal for now to the man whose business has propelled them into the European elite.
There can be no denying the foolishness of Leonardo’s actions, nor can his track record be hailed as completely flawless while at PSG.
He branded the team that he created “not built for Ligue 1” (via ESPN FC) after a disappointing defeat at Reims last season and also clashed with Ibrahimovic in the wake of the immediate title celebrations at Lyon (via ESPN FC).
Also, his approach to transfers while in the French capital has resembled a scattergun, but crucially more of those deals have succeeded than failed.
And those successes have been of the unqualified variety.
While the Brazilian has been a naughty boy, it must be recognised that he has worked wonders in such a short space of time to assemble such a squad of stars.
No hard task with that much money some might say, but persuading the likes of Moura to reject approaches from massive clubs such as Manchester United took excellent negotiation skills and great ambition.
Despite his mistakes, Leonardo has helped QSI put PSG on the European footballing map ahead of time.
Without his ability to bring the necessary glitz and glamour to the table, there is a good chance that this ambitious project would not have gotten off the ground. It certainly would not have developed as quickly had the former Brazilian international not been in charge.
For that, PSG must show him the same faith that he put in them when leaving Milan for the fledgling project in the capital at the start.
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