PSG left with gaps to fill after disappointing season

Paris side ended their season with only one major trophy as they lost out to Lille in the race for the Ligue 1 title


REUTERS May 24, 2021

PARIS:

Paris St Germain ended their season with only one major trophy as they lost out to Lille in the race for the Ligue 1 title on Sunday, leaving coach Mauricio Pochettino and sports director Leonardo with gaps to fill ahead of the 2021-22 campaign.

The capital side finished second in Ligue 1, one point behind Lille, after being knocked out in the Champions League semifinals and winning the French Cup earlier this week.

Last year PSG claimed the French Cup, Ligue 1 title, the last edition of the League Cup and reached the Champions League final, only for coach Thomas Tuchel to be sacked last December to make way for Argentine Pochettino.

The German has since led Chelsea to the Champions League final, while Pochettino has failed to have an impact in Paris in his first job following his sacking by Tottenham Hotspur in November 2019 after he took them to the European Cup final.

The blend of Neymar, Kylian Mbappe, Keylor Navas and Marquinhos has failed to lift PSG to their desired heights after the club spent an eye-watering 1.3 billion euros since Qatar Sports Investment took over at the end of 2011.

Throughout the season, PSG lacked composure on the pitch and shortcomings in their recruitment policy appeared evident.

If Brazil forward Neymar or France striker Mbappe are not at their best, PSG do not shine and often look like they have no game plan. They are missing some top players in key positions.

Their full-backs are too often overwhelmed and bring little offensively, while in the midfield the likes of Ander Herrera, Leandro Paredes and Idrissa Gueye have yet to show they have the quality to feature in a leading European side.

Only Marco Verratti has shown he has what it takes, but the Italy international is too often suspended or injured.

In the last two years, PSG have failed to attract world-class players, apart from goalkeeper Keylor Navas from Real Madrid, while losing the likes of defender Thiago Silva, now a team leader at Chelsea, and striker Edinson Cavani who has had a fruitful season at Manchester United.

Both players were denied a contract extension by Leonardo, who has focused on extending the deals of Neymar and Mbappe.

While Neymar has now signed for PSG until 2025, Mbappe has yet to agree on an extension, with his deal expiring at the end of next season.

"Everyone knows that I have a deep attachment to the club. I have always been grateful to the president and my various coaches," said Mbappe after being named Ligue 1 Player of the Year on Sunday.

"After that, what I want is to win. I want to feel that I'm in a place where I can really win, where there's a solid project around me. I eat football, I live football, and therefore the sporting project is essential."

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