Leonardo’s Departure Announcement Bursts Paris Saint-Germain Illusion
In what was a surprising announcement, Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) director of football (soccer) Leonardo announced on Wednesday that he would be leaving the post but would stay on and help the club with transfers until the end of the summer transfer window next month.
Leonardo’s announcement follows the departure of Carlo Ancelotti, who left to coach Real Madrid. As was pointed out by the excellent soccer writer Gabrielle Marcotti: it is now very clear that PSG in reality do not have an actual plan in place, but instead, what PSG owners have been selling has been nothing but an illusion.
When PSG were bought and taken over by Qatar Investment Authority, the group with Nasser Al-Khelaifi as the president promised many many things to PSG supporters and those wondering what there intentions were in acquiring a Ligue 1 club.
When they announced Leonardo to be the director of football operations, the Qatari owners were lauded for, at the very least, hiring an man who was cultured: Leonardo speaks five languages, has a good eye for knowing how to proceed with the project and would be able to bring in great talent with his ability to recruit.
To a certain extent, it seemed as if Leonardo was at the very least carrying out the first part of the project, which was set in place for the new regime at PSG, having brought in players like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva, Marco Verratti and Lucas Moura.
After the unnecessary and over-the-top spectacle, which was put on to celebrate the 2012-13 Ligue 1 championship, PSG have been exposed and made to look like a club who are more flash than substance. The summer has shown that the project in place has never existed, and if anything, the only plan is to spend and buy top talent like drunken sailors.
The indications of a non-existent plan were first seen in the search to replace Ancelotti as coach. The PSG search saw them denied by their first six or seven candidates they had in mind to replace Ancelotti, and on top of that, at first, they were only wanting to offer a one-year contract because they are waiting for next summer when Arsene Wenger is a free agent.
PSG finally settled on hiring Laurent Blanc, a man who was passed over for consideration for coaching Serie A club AS Roma. Mind you, the AS Roma job is less attractive than the PSG one.
The other indication of the clear lack of a plan at PSG is the pursuit of forward Edinson Cavani. Now, the signing of Cavani would make sense except for the fact that the club already have Ibrahimovic, a forward who happens to be the highest wage earner and is known to be a surly and mercurial character.
Just because you can acquire a big-money player does not mean you should, and PSG clearly are just pursuing and trying to sign Cavani because they can and not because it makes sporting sense. This does not include the fact that potentially signing could mean that the club end up in violation of UEFA Financial Fair Play regulations.
While not the first indication or potentially the last, Leonardo’s announcement of him leaving is the latest piece of evidence that PSG clearly have no plan and are just spending like drunken sailors.
As Marcotti has pointed out, a lack of clear and viable three- to five-year plan by PSG and its Qatari owners will mean that any on-field success will be short lived and not sustained.