PSG’s summer overhaul: Keeping Kylian Mbappé and selling Marco Verratti
L’Équipe details a busy summer at Paris Saint-Germain for sporting director Luis Campos, head coach Luis Enrique and club president Nasser Al Khelaïfi.
Over the past decade Paris Saint-Germain have been as defined by the various off-field problems as it has by the elite stars on the pitch.
PSG have won nine of the last 11 French league titles, but have consistently fallen short in Europe. There has been a suspicion that, despite the revolving cast of world class players that their disposal, the Parisian club has lacked the holistic approach that many of Europe’s other top clubs have implemented.
This summer the PSG hierarchy set out to change that, introducing an organisational structure designed to bring greater harmony to the club. Former Barcelona head coach Luis Enrique has been brought in to lead the team, aided by sporting director Luis Campos and club president Nasser Al Khelaïfi. French soccer daily L’Équipe has outlined how the trio worked together to overhaul PSG over a busy summer in the French capital.
“Campos captures, Luis Enrique convinces, Al Khelaïfi negotiates,” L’Équipe reports.
As sporting director Campos has been tasked with identifying players who fit the new coach’s style of play, and Luis Enrique has played an important role in approving any potential signing and convincing them of the sporting project in Paris. Finally, club president Al Khelaïfi has sought to ensure that the squad is revamped while avoiding the sort of lavish spending that has seen the club stung in recent years.
Al Khelaïfi played hard ball with Mbappé
For all the talk of new signings, the most critical situation at PSG over the summer was the future of Kylian Mbappé. On 12 June the French forward submitted a letter detailing his decision not to extend his current deal beyond 2024, when it was due to expire. This enraged Al Khelaïfi and the club’s Qatari owners, who had expected the player to take up the option of a one-year extension on his lucrative current deal.
Mbappé was swiftly excluded from the first team squad and dropped from the club’s summer tour. Luis Enrique and Campos bore the brunt of the blame from supporters, who believed that they had failed the club’s star player.
It was not until 12 August that the French captain met with Al Khelaïfi at Parc des Princes and the two men reached an agreement for him to return to the first team. Mbappé is thought to have agreed a deal in principle that will prevent him leaving PSG for free next summer, although a formal extension has not been signed.
After easing tensions with the club’s star player, Al Khelaïfi moved onto some key summer signings. Young forwards Bradley Barcola (Lyon) and Randal Kolo Muani (Eintracht de Franfkurt) were secured in late August as the club looked to shift away from the superstar-led model of previous years. Lionel Messi and Neymar Jr departed Paris this summer and younger, more adaptable players were brought in to replace them.
The biggest name to join the club this summer was former Barcelona forward Ousmane Dembélé, who is a close friend of Mbappé's. The club may be hoping that this younger, more dynamic forward line will convince Mbappé to commit his future to the club.
Bad influence Verratti allowed to leave
L’Équipe cites the departure of Italian midfielder Marco Verratti as proof that the Luis Campos-Al Khelaïfi-Luis Enrique triumvirate is working well. It is thought that the Spanish coach was initially keen to keep Verratti in the squad but was advised by Luis Campos and Luis Enrique that the 30-year-old is not likely to appreciate the club’s new sporting direction.
The club hierarchy cast doubts over Verratti’s professionalism and suggested that a player of such influence in the dressing room could hinder the development of PSG’s new-look squad. After not featuring for a single minute in PSG’s first games of the 2023/24 season, he was sold to Qatari side Al Arabi for around €45 million ($48.31m).
After a busy summer, club officials hope that this new direction can bring greater harmony to Paris Saint-Germain after a trophy-laden but ultimately underwhelming decade. Al Khelaïfi is eager to end the club’s ‘star project’ to make way for a younger team, with the collective spirit to compete with the very best in Europe.
For now it looks like Luis Campos, Al Khelaïfi and Luis Enrique are working well together, but the ultimate success of the PSG project will depend on whether that off-field harmony brings greater unity on the pitch.