There’s no doubt that PSG have come a long way since the 2010/11 season; when they finished fourth in Ligue 1, competed in the UEFA Europa League and ended the campaign trophyless.
Since Qatar Sports Investment arrived and took over the club in the summer of 2011, PSG have benefitted from more than €1.3 billion worth of investment in the squad, while they’ve won eight league titles and 21 domestic cups during the same period.
However, despite this significant trophy haul and buying some of the world’s best players in the last 12 years, the UEFA Champions League remains tantalisingly out of reach. But will the Parisians ever win the UCL, and what needs to change for them to achieve this?
How Have PSG Fared in the Champions League?
Prior Qatari investment, PSG appeared in five European Cup or Champions League campaigns, progressing as far as the semi-finals in 1994/95 before being edged out by Milan.
Of course, repeated domestic success has seen PSG emerge as regular UCL participants since 2010, during which time they’ve appeared in 11 successive tournaments.
However, this run has only yielded two semi-finals and a single final, the latter of which came under the inspired stewardship of German coach Thomas Tuchel in the 2019/20 season. Otherwise, they’ve been eliminated at the quarter-final stage on four separate occasions, while also enduring five round of 16 exits from the tournament.
This season also saw PSG knocked out in the round of 16, as Bayern Munich eased to a comfortable 3-0 aggregate win in a surprisingly uncompetitive two-legged tie.
PSG have also been on the wrong end of some unwanted UCL records in recent times. In 2018/19, they became first side to be eliminated from a two-legged tie after winning by two clear goals away from home in the first leg. This was against a depleted Manchester United, who overcame their 2-0 first-leg deficit to prevail 3-1 in Paris and progress by virtue of the away goals’ rule.
In the 2016/17 campaign, they also became the first side to be knocked out having won the first leg 4-0 at home, as Barcelona thrashed them 6-1 at the Camp Nou to further the Parisian’s emotional baggage in the competition.
What Do PSG Need to Win the UCL?
After reaching the semis in 2020/21, PSG have twice gone out limply in the last 16, and in truth, they seem further away than ever from winning the Champions League.
But what needs to change for the club to achieving their last remaining ambition? Well, it’s likely that current manager Christophe Galtier will leave in the summer, and the club need to have a clear focus and plan in mind when appointing his successor.
There’s certainly more to an elite manager than basic qualifications, and whether they appoint a proven winner like Jose Mourinho (who has been linked with the job) or a more progressive theorist like Julian Nagelsmann, it’s crucial that the PSG hierarchy have a clearly defined vision and timeframe in which they want to achieve success.
They should also appoint a manager with a preferred playing style and philosophy in mind, as this can also help the club’s holistic approach to recruitment and youth development.
Certainly, developing and retaining young talent could be crucial to PSG’s future development, both in terms of creating a positive culture within the club and reducing operational costs in the future.
Remember, players like Moussa Dembele, Christopher Nkunku, Adrien Rabiot and Kingsley Coman (who scored the winning goal as PSG were beaten in the 2019/20 UCL final) have all come through the PSG youth setup but subsequently been allowed to leave, and this can’t be right for a team that aspires to win the biggest prizes.
The Last Word
Such measures would represent a marked change of approach for PSG, while it may also involve the sale of high-profile egos that have become synonymous with the club’s failures on the continental stage.
This could mean the sale of Neymar, while Lionel Messi has also been linked to an emotional return to Barcelona. The new manager could then build a team around the talismanic Kylian Mbappe, provided he chooses to remain in the French capital.
From here, PSG will need to move methodically and strategically, while managing their expectations as they look to create a football club that can deliver on the owner’s lofty objectives.