As Lionel Messi leaves PSG, an opportunity arises for Luis Campos – The Guardian

The exodus at the club this summer gives the sporting director the resources and blank slate he needs to build a new squad
By Adam White for Get French Football News
Neither of PSG’s two most recent marquee signings has worked out as hoped. Both could even be classed as outright mistakes in hindsight. However, as one’s Parisian journey looks set to end in acrimony, the other may yet deserve a second chance. As PSG beat Ajaccio 5-0 on Saturday to move within one win of another underwhelming league title, hopes of revolution again returned to the Parc des Princes.
Luis Campos arrived at PSG last summer as the most astute scout in football, but his ability to help medium-sized clubs overperform with cost-effective recruitment has been wasted in Paris. PSG operate in an entirely different market to Campos’ previous clubs and many of their ills this year can be traced back to his baffling appointment of Christophe Galtier as coach and the thin squad they landed on due to his weak transfer business.
Campos’ arrival promised to end “bling-bling” – the shallow glamour and jarring largesse of the last decade under Qatari ownership – but little has changed and his position has been under threat of late. However, circumstances could yet work in his favour.
Signed two seasons ago in perhaps the highest-profile transfer of them all, Lionel Messi’s stay in the capital all but ended last week. Banned by the club for an unauthorised trip to Saudi Arabia, whose clubs now court the Argentinian, Messi posted a surreal apology on social media. With Barcelona also circling and Messi being booed by fans at the weekend – even though the club’s ultras were “on strike” in protest against QSI’s running of the club – his relationship with PSG seems irredeemable.
Messi’s sojourn in Paris is coming to an end in failure, with just three far from bling-bling games remaining before the end of his contract. He will leave with two wholly underwhelming Ligue 1 titles, no domestic cups and, crucially, zero Champions League success. Although arguably the greatest footballer ever, as an undroppable celebrity forward who has been unwilling (or perhaps unable at 35) to press consistently or cover defensively, his signing was perhaps always unworkable in a sporting sense – especially as the club already had two attackers of that type.
With their competitors’ increasingly cohesive and nuanced out-of-possession play becoming ever more important to their successes, PSG’s horribly one-dimensional galáctico tribute act has looked like a different sport when compared to teams such as Arsenal or Manchester City.
Messi’s departure could spark an exodus this summer. With just a year left on his contract, and an extension yet to be triggered, Kylian Mbappé could reportedly be on his way to Real Madrid. Neymar, although contracted until 2027, is also considering his future after PSG fans “protested” outside his house – despite him missing the last 12 games through injury.
Goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, full-backs Nuno Mendes and Achraf Hakimi, and midfielder Vitinha are the only senior players certain to stay for next season. Now 37, Sergio Ramos’ deal is up; fellow centre-backs Presnel Kimpembe and Marquinhos are entering the final year of their contracts; and, despite recently agreeing to an extension, long-serving midfielder Marco Verratti has also been linked to a move. With the club’s finances a constant balancing act, the rest of the squad would all be available as well.
Such upheaval is good news for Campos. Although his appointment was misguided given his skillset, he is undoubtedly one of Europe’s best talent spotters and his precise squad building led to both Lille and Monaco’s recent title wins. He could yet adapt his outlook to suit PSG. Short-termism has plagued the club during the QSI era and resetting with yet another management team may be less productive than giving Campos more time to reshape the club. To his credit, Campos has at least brought a more common-sense approach.
Rebuilding the PSG squad could be a thrilling challenge for a sporting director like Campos. Messi and Ramos will leave for free but Neymar may demand a nine-figure sum if a buyer can be found. Chelsea’s lack of Champions League football will be a disappointment for Campos as he has reportedly been trying to sell the 31-year-old since he arrived, with Stamford Bridge a possible destination.
The traditional clique of senior players at PSG could at last be disbanded. Now 27, the inconsistent Kimpembe is unlikely to improve and has rarely shown he is equipped to start for an elite-level team in the biggest games. Marquinhos’ leadership has disappointed at key moments, most notably during last season’s collapse at Real Madrid in the Champions League. Also into his thirties, Verratti’s fitness and form continue to frustrate. Campos signings Carlos Soler, Renato Sanches and Fabián Ruiz were relatively cheap but they have all struggled and could also leave.
The young striker Hugo Ekitiké is being linked to the Premier League after an underwhelming season. Danilo Pereira, despite a solid campaign out of position at centre-back, was listed as an “undesirable” last summer. Unfortunately for Campos so were Mauro Icardi, Abdou Diallo, Julian Draxler, Keylor Navas, Layvin Kurzawa, Leandro Paredes and Georginio Wijnaldum. All proved impossible to shift permanently last summer, all have a year left on their PSG deals, and most are likely to return from loan in July.
PSG’s unrepresentative wages mean many players do not want to leave and are unable to find clubs who will match their pay when they do. Even still, the club could bring in a few hundred million pounds if they find the right buyers. That investment would be a significant boost to the usual spending money, giving Campos ample resources and something close to a blank slate to design a new squad.
Mbappé’s future will, of course, be pivotal from both a sporting and a financial perspective. Reports in France insist the club want to build around the 24-year-old but PSG would be ill-advised to turn down another mammoth offer from Madrid if the player does not trigger a contract extension. Otherwise, PSG could again be on the verge of losing a €180m signing and perhaps the world’s best player for free. One U-turn was barely believable, expecting a second would be unfathomably reckless.
Whatever the future holds for the club, Messi’s two years at PSG have proved largely fruitless – a World Cup triumph, a seventh Ballon d’Or and some solid personal displays notwithstanding. His departure seems more likely to help the club achieve their goals than an unlikely rapprochement. A Messi-led exodus could also save Campos’ project. PSG may yet see the end of “bling-bling” but the revolution could look very different to what the club, and Campos, intended.

Strasbourg 2-0 Nice
PSG 5-0 Ajaccio 
Lens 2-1 Reims
Clermont 2-1 Lyon
Brest 1-0 Auxerre
Montpellier 1-1 Lorient
Rennes 4-0 Troyes
Toulouse 0-0 Nantes
Monaco 0-0 Lille
Marseille 3-1 Angers
Toulouse’s meeting with Nantes descended into chaos this weekend. The game was delayed by half an hour after a suspicious package was found in the away end. Meanwhile, the Nantes general manager Franck Kita, son of club president Waldemar, was reportedly involved in a scuffle with an agent at the match. A total of six players also reportedly refused to take part in Ligue 1’s anti-homophobia campaign, which involves rainbow-coloured shirt numbers and armbands.
Astonishingly, the campaign received criticism from some high-profile figures. Despite insisting he was “against all forms of discrimination,” the Rennes coach Bruno Génésio said the campaign was “not necessary”. The Brest manager Eric Roy lamented its timing, saying: “Don’t do it in the last four matches of the season, when they concern clubs’ survival,” adding that the league should “primarily take care of football”. The campaign has been controversial in the past too, with Idrissa Gueye, then of PSG and now of Everton, reportedly refusing to take part.
This is an article from Get French Football News
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