Real Madrid’s great rivals were Atlético Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich, at local, national or continental level respectively. But a fourth has emerged, perhaps global in scope: PSG. And I say global because I have the impression that the clashes between the two don’t occur so much because of the context of the European Cup, as was the case with Bayern, but because of the desire to be a megabrand of world soccer. The aim is to be the Coca-Cola or the Disney of the round ball game. This is what PSG aspired to with its Mbappé-Messi-Neymar trio, a replica of Real Madrid’s original Galácticos, and that project explains the bitter fight for Mbappé, the out-and-out Galáctico of today.
On its side PSG has the passive complicity of UEFA, which looks the other way when the French club talks about financial fair play, but PSG does have to pretend to be doing something. So, feigning making savings, the club has decided to get rid of six players who do not fit into the plans of Luis Campos, the new general manager: Icardi, Draxler, Kurzawa, Dagba, Kehrer and Wijnaldum. They, of course, do not want to leave. Paris is Paris and there are not many places away from the Parc des Princes which pay what the players earn at PSG. All the super-rich clubs, including our Real Madrid and Barça, have that problem: you can’t get rid of players if you don’t stump up half their salary or more.
Faced with this situation, PSG have announced a barbaric approach: not only will the club send the players to train separately, but they will also have to use different changing rooms and will not have access to the parking area. Brutal. Yet more examples of institutional bullying, which soccer accepts with hateful naturalness. I don’t know how this will end, nor what will happen with the Neymar lawsuit that is on the horizon, but PSG is shooting itself in the foot. To achieve the status the club seeks it needs moral greatness, something that former Real Madrid president Santiago Bernabéu always cultivated and that will remain the Spanish club’s hallmark for the rest of time. PSG is far from Real Madrid in tradition and trophies, but even further in corporate decency.