Nasser Al Khelaifi arrived at Paris Saint-Germain in November 2011 with a clear mission for the club: to become one of Europe’s heavyweights. And he brought his cheque book and unlimited funds, stymied only by Fair Play regulations in his search for the best and most bankable players on the planet.
But just over five years later, PSG still do not have a top-tier global superstar in their squad after the departure last summer of Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Manchester United. PSG have tried twice to tempt Neymar with an offer of 40 million euros after tax per year but the Brazilian remains at Barcelona.
Al-Khelaifi’s first glamour signings were a loan deal to bring a 36-year-old David Beckham to Paris when the former Real Madrid star was easing towards retirement at LA Galaxy. The midfielder was included in the side even to the detriment of the team’s interests but his arrival and that of Ibrahimovic filled the streets of Paris with PSG shirts and placed the club firmly on the map.
With Ibrahimovic in the team PSG dominated Ligue 1 and the domestic cup competitions but fell short time and again in Europe.
PSG's massive outlay
The club’s scattergun approach to acquisitions began with Javier Pastore (42 million euros) and culminated with the signing of Edinson Cavani from Napoli (64.5 million). Ángel di María (63 million from Manchester United) remains the club’s record signing.
But the spending has not been as top-heavy as at other clubs, with the Qatar Investment Fund happy to do just that at the back. David Luiz (50m), Thiago Silva (42m) and Marquinhos (31m) were all added to a squad of big-name signings that still required that extra bit of star dust to complete the picture.
However, after laying out 107,1m (2011-12), 149,5m (2012-13), 135,9m (2013-14), 49,5m (2014-15) and 144,6m (16-17), PSG found themselves without a Plan B last summer when Neymar rejected their offer.
Under Unai Emery, PSG bought Grzegorz Krychowiak (33,6m), Jesé (25m), Giovani Lo Celso (10m) and Thomas Meunier (6m). Neither Krychowiak, Emery’s trusted lieutenant at Sevilla, nor the former Real Madrid forward worked out and Al-Khelaifi, under the demands of the fans, went into the market again in January and snapped up Julian Draxler (40m) and Gonçalo Guedes (30m).
But Paris, the city of glamour, still wants more. A Messi, Neymar or Suárez for example, all of whom will be in the Parc des Princes on Tuesday night but on the opposing team.