By Preye Campbell
When Qatar Sports Investment took over Paris Saint Germain (PSG) in 2011, the signs for a major investment in the French club were there. That year, Les Parisiens finished fourth in Ligue 1 and before that, they had won only two Ligue 1 crowns. What we saw was a team lacking in personality, not fit to lead.
Nasser El-Khelaifi understood that initiative and injected mega-cash into the ailing club. The result? Since QSI took over PSG, only one other team has won the league between the 2011/12 season and the recently concluded 2019/20 season, and that was the dynamic AS Monaco side in the 2016/17 season.
Domestically, the idea paid off. From changing managers regularly to sealing jaw-breaking deals with some of Europe’s finest players, PSG announced themselves to the world stage. They became an attractive club, the type where you would be ‘guaranteed’ trophies. 25 trophies since QSI took over shows that the statistic does speak for itself.
But there was one major problem; no European success.
The last time PSG were so much as affiliated with European success was in 1995 with the now defunct UEFA Cup Winners ‘Cup. The goal was for the Parc Des Princes outfit to be a global club, fixed in the same bracket as the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United, Bayern Munich. But you need that European dominance before you could come close to that list. PSG’s transformation did not come cheap as it took the club at least €1.03 billion to become the outfit we see today- splashing the cash on the likes of Javier Pastore, Blaise Matuidi, Thiago Silva, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Lucas Moura, Edinson Cavani, David Luiz, Angel Di Maria, Neymar, and Kylian Mbappe.
Sunday night could provide the answer that has been elusive to the French giants in the last few seasons. Having faced multiple disappointments in the knockout stages, PSG are now just one match away from a first major UEFA Champions League crown. This season, PSG have gone past Borussia Dortmund, Atalanta, and Red Bull Leipzig to set up an exciting showdown against German champions, Bayern Munich.
If one could imagine the situation at the PSG camp, one could say it is that of tension and excitement and also with a little dose of something to prove. The club and the players in it have come under fire over the years for lacking that European stronghold. So, tomorrow night in Lisbon, it is not just Neymar Jr with something to prove (having left Barcelona in 2017 in unceremonious circumstances), it is not just Thiago Silva seeking the perfect exit to a club he has wholeheartedly served, it is not just Thomas Tuchel seeking to hold on to his job by delivering what his employers want, even the QSI outfit are seeking reward for major money spent.
The circumstances presently might not have been foreshadowed by anyone but PSG would care less. The dream is still the same; win the Champions League.