Archive for the ‘Paris Saint-Germain’ Category

Chelsea v Paris Saint-Germain - UEFA Champions League Quarter Final Second Leg

First, a reminder that football can be fun, as if last night’s fixtures weren’t enough to convince you. But here in the face of our own understanding of the game in which players and managers are in perpetual show down over rivalries, playing opportunities, perceived snubs and all the rest of it, a pleasant moment between two monsters of the game:

Second, do we need to haul out the small sample size song again?

Demba Ba likely felt this was his moment after he had secured Chelsea’s future in the Champions League by scoring Chelsea’s second, knocking out PSG last night. In response to Mourinho’s remarks after the 3-1 result in the first leg, in which the Chelsea manager claimed his side don’t currently have any “real” strikers, Ba said:

“I wasn’t out for revenge. Maybe he [Mourinho] doesn’t have the strikers to his liking, but I know that we have three great strikers and I think that a lot of clubs would like to have them. I’m happy to have liberated us. I haven’t been given my chance much this season, but I’ve taken this one.

And yet this year’s tallies remain on the books, and it shows a club in which Eden Hazard is the top scorer and the only Chelsea player on double digits. Samuel Eto’o, brought in as a stop gap, is second on 8, tied with Oscar. Compare to City with Aguero and Dzeko on 15 and 11 goals respectively, both trailing Yaya Toure’s 18.

So good on the night, but it would seem that Mourinho may be onto something. Quite whether Diego Costa is the solution is a topic for another post…

Paris St Germain's Patore celebrates with team mates after scoring the third goal for the team during their Champions League quarter-final first leg soccer match against Chelsea at the Parc des Princes Stadium in Paris

Devang Desai and Richard Whittall sit down to discuss the U.S – Mexico friendly, this week’s Champions League action and Jose Mourinho’s striker problem.

You can download the podcast here and subscribe on iTunes here. You can also find the RSS Feed here.

Arsenal v Bayern Munich - UEFA Champions League Second Round First Leg

Devang Desai, Richard Whittall and James Bigg sit down to talk about this week’s Champions League action, including red card misery for a pair of Premier League clubs, PSG’s chances of winning it all and Adel Taarabt’s rejuvenation.

You can download the podcast here and subscribe on iTunes here. You can also find the RSS Feed here.

psg-footballBy Alex Netherton

It’s nice to know that it’s not just the Premier League whose ceremonial opening game is taken as seriously as it deserves. On Saturday night, Paris Saint-Germain and Bordeaux played in their version of the Charity Shield, the Trophee de Champions. As you’d expect from what is fundamentally a friendly, the line-ups we patchy and the commitment to performance was even less than that.

With Edinson Cavani and Marquinhos not starting, and with the use of such stellar substitutes as Hervin Ongenda, a five-feet, eight-inches tall eighteen-year-old, it was clear that this was a match being used as practice, and little else. Bordeaux, equally, are adjusting after changes made to their squad, losing Anthony Modeste and Benoit Tremoulinas for 11 million euros, and reinforcing with a 33-year-old Jeremie Brechet and little-known Lucas Orban. Despite taking the lead, the match in Gabon ended with a 96th minute PSG winner for Alex, who one would assume will be sat on his buttocks sooner rather than later now that Marquinhos has been bought.

So, while the match was a friendly, it continued the kind of story we’re used to from PSG. Not hugely impressive given the massive amount of petrodollars they’ve been heaving around with gay [Paris] abandon, but still with such an advantage in resources and talent that victory was almost certainly inevitable. PSG have added again this summer, and were it not for Monaco one would assume that Ligue Un was theirs for as long as they wanted it, and that the focus could be shifted to the Champions League.

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If only all club presidents were as candid (and, in truth, interesting) as Napoli’s Aurelio de Laurentiis. He gave his full and honest assessment of the circumstances behind the sale of Edinson Cavani today, including his release clause:

“If it wasn’t for that clause, I wouldn’t have sold him, not even for €70 million,” he said. “It’s a question of principle. You can’t just go around buying everything – it’s ethically wrong. The problem is these clubs are sponsored by companies who flaunt absurd sums of money.

“As for Cavani, we’ve had to raise his salary each year, reaching a level higher than that which Bayern Munich’s top players earn.

“Then he starts saying he wants to leave, and I told him to insert a release clause, which happened last July. I’m sure Real Madrid, Manchester City and Chelsea would never have spent €63 million.”

Note de Laurentiis didn’t say “backed by owners who flaunt absurd sums of money.” The Napoli president’s remarks signal the first major battleground in Financial Fair Play, the one thing that could very well render it useless: UEFA’s failure to critically assess whether club sponsorship deals, like PSG’s three figure deal with Emirates airlines re-upped this past May, were negotiated in good faith at market value.

However de Laurentiis is likely barking up the wrong tree with PSG, as this Reuters report from last May indicates:

According to media reports, the agreement was worth around 25 million euros a year, still significantly below the more lucrative shirt sponsorship deals in the English Premier League.

In other words, it’s not that big a deal as far as payola contracts are concerned. Nor is there anything preventing Napoli from aggressively seeking a more lucrative sponsorship partner than Lete and MSC, a bottled water company and cruise line respectively. Surely some middling popularity amid a few Champions League seasons might be enough to up the ante.

At some point aggrieved clubs have to cast off their “David” image and realize the game’s done changed.

Uruguay v Italy: 3rd Place Match - FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013

Paris Saint-Germain have reportedly bid ~€59 million for Napoli’s Edinson Cavani. The kicker though is Napoli have set a €63 million release clause for the Uruguayan international. Hey there ناصر بن غانم الخليفي if you’re reading this, why not simply give Leonardo the missing €4 million and get things rolling?

There may be a host of possible answers to that tantalizing question (if you’re the type of person who finds these things tantalizing), but one answer is that PSG considers €63 million is simply too high a valuation. Shocking stuff. And probably not the right answer.

If PSG’s backers were to negotiate with Napoli over this relatively small amount, what recourse would they have to deliberately low-ball on the release clause? There may be a few things. What might help would be some sort of objective look at whether Napoli’s valuation is totally batshit insane to begin with.

Yesterday I wrote an, erm, review of the CIES Football Observatory’s Annual Review. I drew specific attention to their final section on economic value—simply put, the authors used their own algorithm based on a host of performative and historical factors to come up with a baseline transfer value.

Now, I’m on the record as a believer in the concept that “market rate” is simply a function of what someone is willing to pay for something. So whatever Cavani eventually goes for will be his “real” transfer value. However, that shouldn’t prevent analytics firms for trying to come up with a reasonable, empirically-based transfer value to keep things kind of sensible.

Okay, so the magic number: what does CIES think Cavani is worth? €58.3 to €67.8 million. So no, Napoli are not insane. And neither, crucially are PSG.

So what follows is some mega speculomasturbation, but my hunch is that PSG knows Aurelio de Laurentiis’ valuation has scared off some big name suitors, leaving only Real Madrid left to make a possible bid. They likely know they’re within Cavani’s “actual” valuation, and that Napoli might have reasonable grounds not to quibble over 4 million should Real Madrid decide spending that much money on a single player wouldn’t be worth it.

Both parties have recourse to third party evidence that they’re within their “right minds.” While I personally think spending nearly €60 million mortgaging your future away on a single player is about as stupid as you can get, the price is right.


Alex Netherton

At least Laurent Blanc won’t have to worry about quotas anymore. Having spent a wee time on the sidelines, Larry White has his new gig at Paris Saint-Germain. Some people get revived by smelling salts, but Blanc has had his career revived by oil fumes. That means, of course, that while there can be loads of excitement about France this season, we can evaluate the work that Carlo Ancelotti has done in his season and a half in France. There won’t be time to include the work we can assume he has done in the city’s restaurants, even if food is obviously more interesting than football. Food!

One would have reasonably assumed that when Ancelotti took over, as 2011 was on the verge of becoming 2012 and PSG were three points clear of Montpellier, that a manager of his experience and a team with such financial advantage would have easily won the league for the first time in over 500 years. It wasn’t to be. Despite that in the summer of 2011, PSG had bought Salvatore Sirigu, Jeremy Menez, Blaise Matuidi, Kevin Gameiro and Javier Pastore, they could only finish second. Montpellier played such thrilling and consistent football, lead by Younes Belhanda and Olivier Giroud’s partnership in attack, that their victory was well deserved. They truly played like a team, while PSG played like they were on their first date. There had been moments of excellence, particularly if intermittently from Pastore, but the sense was that Montpellier’s form for that season carried them to the title, partly because PSG were incapable of pulling their fingers out.

And they didn’t pull their fingers out (this is a metaphor, not a genuinely revolting scoop being put out there) in Ancelotti’s first transfer window. They bought Maxwell from Barcelona and Alex from Chelsea. This was not so much a statement of intent as it was a statement of just looking forward to the end of the season. Work was being done to lay the foundations for success and to sensibly attempt walking before they would consider running. There were plenty of boos from the club, as there were at the start of the 2012/13 season, but that said more about the type of fans PSG have. Paris’s fans were already known for their arrogance, and the city is widely loathed for the same. The takeover attracted the fairweather, flashy fan – the type Chelsea have started to attract – with a sense of entitlement expressed first and foremost in willingness to express dissatisfaction. If there was one thing Ancelotti failed to improve, it was the new fans’ attitudes. What he did do, though, was to weather the fans’ displeasure and commit himself to steady progress that would leave PSG able to focus almost exclusively on the future, rather than mistakes of the past.

Ancelotti did not transform the team in this season, nor did he appear to try to. The owners and Leonardo had said Champions League football was the aim for that season, and so it proved. PSG finished second, and Ancelotti had begun to build his team. He had identified those players capable of performing in the Champions League, he identified the players who would improve the squad, and more importantly, began the process of removing the players who were no longer needed. Improvement was gradual but can be seen more clearly in retrospect than simply in each transfer window.

Without Carlo Ancelotti at Paris Saint-Germain, it would have taken more effort, and more z-e-r-ohs on the cheques to attract the players necessary to really compete in Europe. Obviously that is not to say PSG were ready for the Champions League last year, but they were a team who looked far more at home in that competition than they did in Ligue Un. That summer, the side added Zlatan Ibrahimovic, bringing an ego and swagger that would normally take years to develop. Ibrahimovic is an utterly staggering arsehole of truly ridiculous proportions, but a man with the standing of Carlo Ancelotti is one of the few capable of keeping him – more or less – onside for a season. Ibrahimovic delivered crucial goals, and his self-regard in turn demanded that his teammates raised their game to meet his expectations. Without Ibrahimovic, the title wouldn’t have been Paris’, and his arrogance was one of the building blocks for the team to get used to being in Europe. Ibrahimovic would have had no concerns about whether or not he really deserved to be there, and his side increasingly started to believe that was the case. When Barcelona eventually defeated them in the quarters, it was PSG who surprised everyone with their competence, not the other side.

As for the others, Ezequiel Lavezzi may not have had an incredible season, but he scored the decisive goal in the last leg against Valencia, and has undeniable class. Thiago Silva had problems with injuries, but displayed often enough that he is potentially the greatest centre back of his era, with a calmness and adroit sense of positioning not seen since Rio Ferdinand at his peak. Marco Verratti, the next Pirlo, was bought from Pescara and could well—no understatement—be the best midfielder of his generation and define PSG if he and his side are successful. Ancelotti needs praise for working with Leonardo to not waste the opportunity of the transfer window – there were no obviously idiotic signings, and all the players added were part of a plan to solve deficiencies, whether or not they were overwhelming successful in doing so. Ibrahimovic added stardust and genuine class, Thiago Silva would improve the defence immeasurably, Verratti was a player to build a side around.
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