It’s been 6 years in the making. Ever since Oryx Qatar Sports Investments bought 70% of PSG, the goal has been clear: win the Champions League.
Since the oil money came pouring in, PSG has been more competitive than ever, but their ultimate goal has eluded them. They often run through domestic competition with ease (bar last season), but have been upended by the real European giants (most notably Barcelona) all too frequently. Yet they’ve come closer and closer to beating the Catalan Kings each season, and were a fluke 6-1 performance from Barça away from beating them in 2017.
That said, even if PSG finished the job vs Barcelona last season, I didn’t consider their squad a Champions League winning one. For as much as a core of Thiago Silva, Marco Verratti, Ángel Di María, and Edinson Cavani dominate in Spain, they were no match for Ronaldo, Bale, Benzema, Kroos, Modric, and Ramos of Real Madrid, or Boateng, Thiago, Robben, Lewandowski, and Neuer of Bayern Munich.
After the summer transfer window, however, PSG has a squad that not only stacks up to those squads, but surpasses them.
After their two massive summer signings–Neymar for $263 million, and Kylian Mbappé for $166 million (Mbappé was technically loaned to PSG for the season, but all signs point to the club triggering his $166 million release clause)–PSG’s starting XI looks like this:
Neymar and Mbappé change the entire dynamic. Neymar is obviously a world class player, but he’s reached another level in Paris thus far. In just 3 Ligue 1 matches, he’s has scored 3 goals, dished out 3 assists, completed 33 dribbles (at a ridiculous 79% success rate), and created 16 chances. PSG’s strength from top to bottom allows him to play as a free-roaming #10, sort of the role that Lionel Messi tends to play. It looks as though the attacking midfield role suits Neymar more than the winger role.
Mbappé is also a game-changer. He’ll play alongside Edinson Cavani, who hasn’t had a strike partner since Zlatan Ibrahimovic left. He’ll provide blistering pace and clinical finishing, which contrasts Cavani’s game nicely, who tends to get involved in the build-up and act as a fox in the box. Mbappé’s also a proven Champions League player, becoming the only player in the history of football to score in his first four CL knockout stage appearances in 2017, as Monaco made it all the way to the semi-finals.
And let’s not forget that PSG still has one of the world’s best midfields, and one of the world’s best midfielders in Marco Verratti. They also have a tested defense led by Thiago Silva.
Chemistry may take some time between the new signings, as shown by Zinedine Zidane’s struggles early in his Real Madrid career. But make no mistake, PSG has the best squad in the world. And they’re about to win the Champions League.