Football: Are We All Playing For Second?

There aren’t many stories that can take the world of sport by surprise, but once again the never-ending Messi saga captured the headlines. The Argentine looked set to stay at Barcelona after agreeing a new five-year contract, that is until it was revealed that the club couldn’t actually pay honour the agreed upon contract.

So, a teary-eyed Lionel Messi had to leave the club he has been at since the age of 13, and make his way to Paris to do what was likely his first ever pre-contract medical. Obviously he passed, and signed for the French giants, Paris Saint Germain.

Messi is the most exceptional signing, but not the only major one made by PSG, this summer.

They signed new contracts with Neymar, and kept Kylian Mbappe (for now), brought in Gianluigi Donnarumma, Sergio Ramos, and Giorgio Wijnaldum in for free, and Achraf Hakimi for a reported £54m. When you add that to the talent already at the club – Marquinhos, Angel Di Maria, and Marco Verratti – PSG have to be a force to be reckoned with for at least the next couple of years until Messi’s contract runs out.

Will this actually work for PSG?

It is important to remember that Neymar left Barcelona to have his own team, where he would be the “man” and he would take the team to glory. He got close, but that wasn’t ever going to be good enough. For a couple of years, Neymar has wanted to go back to Barcelona to play with Messi again, yet it never worked out. Now, Messi has come to Neymar’s club.

Neymar wears number 10, while Messi will run around in 30. Neymar is the focal point of the team, and Messi has just joined. However, Messi has an aura about him that only Cristiano Ronaldo possesses. Neymar knows this, and looks up to the Argentine which is what needs to happen until Messi leaves.

There’s a third superstar that needs to be considered. One that has never played with Messi before, and has a major ego himself, Kylian Mbappe. Over the last couple of years, Mbappe has shown himself to be more of a diva than previous. Having bust-ups with players because Giroud implicitly criticised Mbappe for not passing him the ball during a friendly against Bulgaria. Mbappe’s reactions lead to annoying a number of players in the French squad.

The sulking will need to stop otherwise both Messi and Neymar will not pass him the ball, explicitly. However, if the Frenchman becomes more of a team player, and Neymar looks up to Messi in the same way he did at Barcelona, then this front three will rival the MSN trio of Barca – Messi, Luis Suarez, and Neymar.

In Gianluigi Donnarumma, they have definitely improved between the sticks, and Sergio Ramos will provide plenty of experience and red cards at the back. Only concern is that Ramos may actually injure Messi in training.

I wish I could be a fly on the wall when they first meet up.

PSG will undoubtedly face criticism for building a team where the owners are from Qatar, Director of Football is Brazilian, Head Coach is Argentinian, and only one possible starter is French.

So much for being a French team!

PSG will definitely win Ligue 1, and possibly go unbeaten.

Probably win the French Cup, if they want to.

If Messi, even at 34, is given the lead role, then they will undoubtedly win the Champions League, too.

Who could actually stop them?

Short answer is probably themselves. PSG will have very little in the way of a challenge domestically which will give them the chance to concentrate on obtaining Champions League success.

Bayern Munich will face a challenge from both Dortmund and RB Leipzig, and the Spanish giants, Real Madrid and Barcelona, are lacking the same aura they once had. In fact, Barcelona currently have a few players, including Sergio Aguero, who they aren’t even allowed to register for the upcoming season as they have too many players on their books. It is a complete poop show over there. What was once “more than a club” is now “just about a toilet”.

Inter have are on the verge of selling Romelu Lukaku for £97.5m to Chelsea (medical pending), and Juventus haven’t brought in any new players worth mentioning.

Finally, the English Premier League will be more competitive than it has been in a long time, which may have a massively detrimental effect on any of their chances. Having said that, the only team with a desire for European success as much as PSG is Man City, who have signed Jack Grealish for over £100m, and will be hoping to add Harry Kane to their ranks, too (very unlikely to happen).

Thank God financial fair play (FFP) was brought in to prevent clubs from using their monetary strength to “buy” success…

Cheers to another season of same old teams, slightly different winner.

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