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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Parisian Perfection

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GRAPHIC: CHRIS KLINE ’23/ THE HAWK

This past spring, France’s most successful and wealthy football club, Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), failed to win a single French domestic title and crashed out of the UEFA Champions League; the most prestigious club competition in the world and competition they have never won. These somewhat embarrassing failures came after their owner, Nasser Al-Khelaifi, a Qatari billionaire, pumped well over a billion dollars into the club over the past 10 years. 

Al-Khelaifi’s aim as PSG owner has always been to bring Champions League glory to Paris and prove that PSG belongs in conversations about the best clubs in the world. After this summer’s transfer window, he may be closer to doing so than ever before. 

With the club’s recent failure fresh on his mind and the weaknesses in his squad apparent, Al-Khelaifi invested hundreds of millions into the acquisition of some of football’s biggest names and, in so doing, has accrued the highest annual wage bill in any sport. 

The Parisian giants have faced four major weaknesses in their past: they were lacking enough strong-holding midfielders, were missing pacey fullbacks, had an aging goalkeeper, and—most importantly—lacked proven Champions League winners in their squad. This summer, they successfully remedied all of these issues with six major signings. 

Georginio Wijnaldum, a Dutch midfielder who won the Champions League with the English titans Liverpool in 2019, was the first new signing to arrive in Paris and immediately solved Paris’ midfield woes. 

After Wijnaldum came two speedy wonderkids from Morocco and Portugal, respectively, Achraf Hakimi and Nuno Mendes. Hakimi and Mendes both play as fullbacks, providing explosive pace on the left and right wings of the field. With those two signings, PSG’s fullback issue was resolved. 

Next came Gianluigi Donnarumma. A young Italian goalkeeper who won the European championship with Italy this summer. Donnarumma was named the best player of that tournament and has proven himself to be one of the best goalkeepers in world football. His transfer provides a permanent solution to PSG’s aging goalkeeper problem.

Finally, Paris acquired two of the most accomplished players in the history of football: Sergio Ramos, the former captain of Real Madrid, and Lionel Messi, the former captain of Barcelona, also known as the most talented footballer that has ever lived. These two players have won a combined eight Champions League titles with their former Spanish clubs and bring unparalleled experience to the PSG squad. Their departures from Real Madrid and Barcelona mark the end of the past decade of Spanish club domination in the Champions League. PSG can have more hope that the coming Champions League era will be classified by Parisian domination instead. 

It is exceedingly rare that any club in football fully remedies all the weaknesses in their squad during the course of a single transfer window. It is even rarer that a club manages to do so by signing so many world-class talents at once. Yet, Al-Khelaifi’s PSG managed to do so. The Champions League title is now Paris’ to lose.

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