Sebby’s column: An overview of PSG’s crazy transfer window

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Paris Saint-Germain had arguably one of the greatest and craziest summer transfer windows that the football world has ever seen. The multiple top-tier players brought in by PSG President Nasser Al-Khelaifi and sporting director Leonardo Araujo are meant to aid a squad that has been in desperate need of reinforcements for quite some time. 

The first move of the window saw Paris swoop up Georginio Wijnaldum on a free transfer. This meant that PSG did not have to pay a fee to any club as the Dutch international’s contract had just run out with English side Liverpool FC. Wijnaldum is a 30-year-old center midfielder who has been described by some football analysts as being “press resistant,” meaning he is able to retain possession of the ball even when pressured by the defense. 

Another free transfer came PSG’s way at the end of June, as former Real Madrid center back, “El Capitán” Sergio Ramos would join the Parisians after his contract ran out with “Los Merengues.” The Spaniard signed a two-year contract with Paris and will look to solidify his place in the starting 11. While he is 35 years old, Ramos can most certainly have a positive impact in the defense, as he is considered one of the greatest defenders the sport has ever seen. Nevertheless, he will have to stay fit, something that he struggled with throughout the 2020/21 season, as he was only able to play 21 matches in all competitions. 

Since Qatar Sports Investment (QSI) took over the club in 2011, they have failed to find an elite-level right back. That all changed this summer, as PSG was able to sign Achraf Hakimi from Italian side Inter Milan for $66 million. The Moroccan international was vital in Antonio Conte’s squad and was one of the main reasons why Inter was able to snatch the Scudetto away from Juventus. Hakimi is known for his pace, which makes him unstoppable in the attack and defense. 

Goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma’s contract with Italian side AC Milan was also set to expire in the summer, This meant PSG had the opportunity to sign him on a free transfer, which they did. The 22-year-old Italian is one of the best young goalkeepers in the world and will have to go up against veteran Keylor Navas for the starting spot in the squad. While Navas is also an exceptional talent he is 34 years old and the club may be looking toward the future with a younger goalkeeper in Donnarumma. 

Paris was also able to secure the services of another fullback in Portuguese left back Nuno Mendes for $44 million. The young 19-year-old demonstrated flashes of brilliance for his former club Sporting Lisbon, and is set to compete with Juan Bernat, Layvin Kurzawa and Abdou Diallo for the left back position. 

While these were all great transfers and filled key holes in the squad, the best transfer the club made was when they signed Argentine winger Lionel Messi on a free transfer in August. Messi’s contract expired this summer, but he had no intention of leaving FC Barcelona and was expected to sign a new deal. However, due to the club’s economic difficulties, Messi was not able to be registered in the squad, meaning he could not continue at Barcelona any longer. 

PSG immediately became the frontrunner in the race for Messi, as they have his former teammate Neymar Jr. on the squad, along with multiple Spanish speaking players in Keylor Navas and Sergio Ramos, and fellow Argentine compatriots in Angel Di Maria, Leandro Paredes and manager Mauricio Pochettino. 

Messi’s arrival at the French capital means he will be forming a deadly attacking trio alongside Neymar and Kylian Mbappe. All three have yet to play together, but will most certainly cause havoc for opposition defenses when they do. 

While Mbappe is one of the three deadly attackers in this trio he expressed his desire in August to not continue with Paris any longer, as he sought a move to Spanish giants Real Madrid. Despite the late request, negotiations were held between both clubs; PSG wanted the equivalent of almost $250 million for Mbappe, but Madrid would only offer around $215 million early on in the negotiations. 

Nevertheless, on transfer deadline day (the last day that transfers can take place), Real Madrid upped their offer to nearly $240 million. Still, this was not enough for Paris, who would not budge despite the player’s discontent and desire to leave. This will prove costly for the Parisians because Mbappe will most likely leave on a free transfer to Madrid, since he is entering the final year of his contract. Paris had an opportunity to cash in on the French superstar before it was too late, but in the end decided against it. 

There are multiple reasons as to why Paris decided against a deal. For one, the club is desperate to win their first-ever Champions League and would rather go all out than sell one of their best attacking forwards. Moreover, QSI and Qatar want PSG to win the Champions League to look good going into the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. The chances of winning the UEFA Champions League is exponentially higher with Mbappe than without him. 

Finally, it may just be that PSG don’t feel as if they need the money. They are a state-owned club with an unlimited amount of funds; choosing to not cash in on a star player before he potentially leaves for free might sound like bad business, but the sheer amount of money that Qatar has means they have the luxury of throwing away sums of $250 million and higher. 

The decision not to sell Mbappe means the pressure is now at an all-time high. If they fail to win the Champions League their gamble on Mbappe will be in vain, and they will have failed to win it with the likes of Messi and Neymar on the squad. 

So far, they’ve had a good start to the season, as they’ve won their first three opening matches. They’ll need to maintain this form throughout the entirety of the season; something they have failed to do in years past. 

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