11 August ~ During the summer, as Paris Saint-Germain signed a clutch of international players and were linked with several more, a friend who supports our fiercest rivals Olympique Marseille would start his phone calls by saying: "It’s becoming indecent." Spending more than €80 million probably falls indeed under the definition of indecency, especially when the investors – namely Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) – remain mysterious. Some question the democratic nature of the Emirate. Others point out that at least we know clearly where the money comes from – oil and gas. Anyway, to be honest, the feeling that PSG inspire jealousy and not only mockery is priceless to the average fan, who hasn’t had much to boast about for a while.
After the frustrating five-year long leadership of Colony Capital, an American fund that is as stingy as it is rich and has targeted the Parc des Princes renovation and concession contracts (they still own 30 per cent of the club’s shares) the arrival of any new owner was to be looked on kindly. Moreover, QIA’s first decision to appoint former PSG player Leonardo as "director of football" was smart.
Very popular with the fans, "Leo" proved his management skills in Milan, and thanks to his Italian network, Salvatore Sirigu, Mohamed Sissoko, Jérémey Ménez and Javier Pastore left Serie A to join the team, which has also been strengthened by French Ligue 1 safe bets such as Kévin Gameiro and Blaise Matuidi. Although weak in defence, the summer recruitment seems promising, the icing on the cake being Pastore. He’s undeniably talented – let’s just hope he’s not overrated. Of course, it will take a few weeks for everyone to learn to play together. To make fun of us, OM’s president Vincent Labrune called us the "Galactiques". But we know we can't be compared with the original ones. We haven’t even signed any bald midfielders who look like Thomas Gravesen.
In the medium term, a major cause for concern might be our stadium. During the work required to enable the ground to host Euro 2016 matches, PSG will move to the Stade de France, which has a much higher capacity. It remains to be seen whether QIA will consider a permanent relocation; the Parc des Princes could yet be renamed after a Qatari company and transformed into a shopping centre.
Last Saturday, the Parc was sold-out for the match with Lorient and Pastore’s official presentation. It was meant to be the perfect start. Watching an appalling performance in a 1-0 defeat, new chairman Nasser Al-Khelaïfi will have discovered that meeting expectations is not really part of PSG’s DNA. You may find it strange, but as long as we’ll keep losing our season openers at home against Lorient, I’ll know my club is not losing its identity. Matthieu Richard