PSG are doing no-one any favours but themselves.. and that’s football in the 2020s
JAMIE CARRAGHER has passed on his views about French club football.
It’s a waste of time, he says. “Nobody can tell me Ligue 1 is a top league.”
The former Liverpool and England defender delivered a dose of logic after PSG’s Neymar and Kylian Mbappe had torn Bayern Munich apart in a Champions’ League quarter final, actually without scoring.
This may have been a successful enterprise financed by Middle East oil money. But the English rarely miss a chance to joust with the French.
Carragher scratched the itch again. A tiny spot but, perhaps inadvertently, a riposte to all those who think they were aimed at us: Brexit stuff, AstraZeneca bashing, our food, our fashion, you name it, starting from William the Conqueror and probably how we wore our woad.
Still, it was a tiny blow for Blighty because Euro facts back him up. Only one French team, Marseille, have ever won the continent’s leading club competition and PSG not at all.
Season after season, the aristocrat footballers of Paris find winning Ligue 1 as comfortable as a stroll beside the River Seine.
It works like this: Qatar state money pays for a number of the world’s best players for PSG while would-be domestic rivals sell the stars produced by French football academies, from Thierry Henry and Zinedine Zidane to Paul Pogba and Mbappe himself.
And while England have grubbed around for more than half a century to find an international team skilled enough even to reach a World Cup final, France have done so twice in the past six competitions.
That shouts of expert coaching pre-dating massive exporting.
So Carragher has it half right and half wrong. Unless his club draw PSG, no manager would quietly curse being coupled with Lille, Lyon or Lens, all currently among Ligue 1’s top five.
The reaction would be different should the opposition come from Spain where, despite the league supremacy of Real Madrid and Barcelona, being matched with, say, Sevilla or Atletico brings on an instant pain.
And in Italy where Juventus have hogged the Serie A title for a decade, club competitiveness there is always a threat among half-a-dozen big city teams, particularly Inter but also Milan, Lazio, Roma and Torino. Much the same applies to Germany.
Carragher was talking football not politics. He couldn’t see why two of the very best players chose Ligue 1 ahead of the Premier League or La Liga.
All right, the glib answer is that PSG offered them enough money to tempt Midas. No other club could or would pay £225m for Neymar, dazzling but as quarrelsome as a cockerel, and £150m for Mbappe, a 19-year-old bolt of lightning.
And now, changing his mind for the Nth time, Neymar wishes to stay in Paris and it will come as no surprise if his team-mate does, too, especially if their team wins the Champions’ League.
No doubt there are other reasons why PSG are now so attractive to the pair.
One is, I think, that Mauricio Pottechino is an understanding and approachable manager and life around Parc des Princes is most pleasurable.
Even awkward squad members respond to him.
Then again, the Qatari fortune that has financed next year’s World Cup has also guaranteed a succession of Ligue 1 titles and all that huge superiority; those games in which players can showcase their brilliance without too much of a risk.
In the end then, PSG are doing no-one any favours but themselves. And that’s football in the 2020s.
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