Big spending PSG have a long way to go to match Europe’s best

Yet after the takeover of their Qatari owners, the club have indulged in transfer after transfer to shock their rivals in France and beyond.

To the French, such spending is unprecedented. Lyon spent big to win seven titles in a row, but they also brought through many youngsters and balanced their books to an extent. Last season little Lille won the league, whilst Marseille may be used to a big budget, but theirs looks miniscule in comparison.

So the transfers themselves. PSG have signed Nicolas Douchez from Rennes; an impressive goalkeeper who was key for the northern club last year as they mounted an unlikely title push. He will be a good addition and replacement for Gregory Coupet in goal. Then at the back they have brought in Milan Bisevac from Valenciennes, a tough and talented defender who will form a solid defensive partnership with 20 year old captain Mamadou Sakho, one of Europe’s most promising defenders. In midfield they have two new central midfielders, Blaise Matuidi is the first. Matuidi arrives from St. Etienne, whom he was the focal point of the team for, attracting interest from some of the Premier League’s bigger names. He is jonied by former Liverpool midfielder Mamadou Sissoko.

It is going forward where they have made their most attractive signings though. First there was Kevin Gameiro, last season’s second top scorer in Ligue 1, for mid table Lorient. He joins the forward line to add depth alongside Guillame Hoarau, whilst Jeremy Menez was brought back to France from Roma. But it was the signing of Palermo’s Javier Pastore, a player linked with and tracked by Barcelona, which captured the imagination. Pastore was advised by Maurizio Zamperini, the Palermo President, to make the move to Paris rather than to London with Chelsea, and the 22 year old Argentine playmaker listened.

But after he was presented to the crowd last weekend for the season opener against Lorient, his team fell to a surprise home defeat at the Parc des Princes, with Gameiro’s replacement, Julien Quercia, tapping home the only goal of the game from a free kick. PSG struggled to break down their opponents, and it showed how far they still have to go.

They should challenge this year; after all they challenged last year, only falling short when Néné, their Brazilian winger, ran out of form and so their title challenge fizzled out. This year they have Menez, Pastore and Gameiro to add goals if Néné can’t maintain a full season of his best form. PSG are much more like Chelsea when bought by Abramovich (i.e. almost the finished product) than Manchester City or Malaga when bought by their respective billionaires (i.e. a product without even a foundation). They only just missed out on the Champions League last season to Lyon on the last day.

But against Lorient they fielded five of their new signings, and that showed. This is a team who need to build a cohesive unit and develop understanding. They have the talent to do so. And other than Pastore, they haven’t signed a team full of players with huge egos, contrary to Manchester City or Malaga. Again in this respect they are more like Chelsea, who brought in foreigners already adapted to Europe and who may have had egos (i.e. Drogba) but also had the determination to be the best (i.e not Adebayor). Chelsea bought a number of English players who could develop into or already were world class stars (Lampard, Ashley and Joe Cole), whilst PSG have bought French stars who will only get better (Matuidi, Gameiro, Menez).

But like Chelsea, success won’t be achieved overnight. Antoine Kombouare, who has done a superb job so far for the Parisians, should be given more time and faith than some think he will have. Kombouare has already said he fears for his job. PSG already had most of the pieces in place though, and their summer additions will only help. But Leonardo was their other arrival, as director of football. His presence will lurk at the club, as though ready to take over as manager at a moment’s notice. It is that fear which could undermine their title chances. PSG will be a force in the years to come, that is sure. But it is unlikely to be a smooth path; where big money is involved, it rarely is.