PSG: How the ti­tle was won

Taranaki Daily News - - Sport - JEROME PUGMIRE

PSG’s league ti­tle win with five games to spare was a pro­ces­sion, one which started from the mo­ment Monaco sold the spine of its ti­tle-win­ning side last sum­mer.

While Monaco made a small for­tune sell­ing for 360 mil­lion eu­ros ($440 mil­lion), PSG broke the world record by sign­ing Ney­mar from Barcelona for 222 mil­lion eu­ros ($260 mil­lion) and fur­ther weak­ened Monaco by sign­ing its teen star Kylian Mbappe in a deal worth $180 mil­lion ($216 mil­lion).

Sell­ing Mbappe to its chief ri­val merely un­der­lined how Monaco fought so lit­tle to keep its ti­tle, seem­ingly fa­vor­ing mak­ing a huge profit over com­pet­ing strongly.

With Lyon and Mar­seille both prone to in­con­sis­tency and un­able to mount a cred­i­ble chal­lenge, the coast was clear and PSG romped to a fifth ti­tle in six sea­sons.

PSG’s only blips were in­ter­nal, such as when striker Edin­son Ca­vani — last sea­son’s pro­lific league top scorer — ar­gued with new­comer Ney­mar as to who should take a penalty. Ney­mar’s red card in a 2-2 draw away to Mar­seille in Oc­to­ber grabbed some head­lines, but there was never much chance PSG’s ti­tle march would come un­stuck.

Now, PSG can set its sights on both break­ing the 100-point bar­rier in the next five games — it has 87 points — while adding to its whop­ping goal tally of 103 goals.

Here’s a look at how PSG won its sev­enth ti­tle and some of the big ques­tion marks hang­ing over the side go­ing for­ward.

GOALS GA­LORE

Up un­til his an­kle in­jury, Ney­mar was chal­leng­ing Ca­vani to be­come the league’s top scorer.

Ney­mar struck 19 league goals in 20 games be­fore be­ing stretchered off at home to Mar­seille on Feb 25, with 11 games re­main­ing.

The Brazil star had surgery in March on a cracked fifth metatarsal in his right foot, but might yet make it back for the end of the sea­son.

Ca­vani has 25 league goals and Mbappe 13, while An­gel Di Maria, who has been in top form since the league re­sumed in Jan­uary, has chipped in with 11. EMERY’S FU­TURE Coach Unai Emery’s two-year con­tract ex­pires at the end of the sea­son and he is widely ex­pected to leave.

Sim­ply put, the Span­ish coach has failed af­ter ar­riv­ing amid much hype fol­low­ing three straight Europa League ti­tles with Sevilla.

He was hired to lead PSG to Cham­pi­ons League glory, but PSG went out in the last-16 of the com­pe­ti­tion this sea­son and last.

While PSG main­tains on course to win the do­mes­tic tre­ble, it prob­a­bly won’t be enough to save his job.

PSG has been in­creas­ingly linked to Borus­sia Dort­mund coach Thomas Tuchel, with news­pa­per re­ports call­ing the 44-year-old Ger­man coach’s ar­rival a for­mal­ity.

PSG has been silent re­gard­ing Tuchel’s ar­rival, but the fact it nei­ther con­firmed nor de­nied hardly bodes well for Emery.

Tuchel’s ar­rival may be just what PSG needs.

The club has been weighed down by too much player power in re­cent years and Tuchel, a strict dis­ci­plinar­ian, could just be strong enough to stamp that out.

WHO’S STAY­ING?

PSG has wor­ries over the fu­tures of Ca­vani, Di Maria and mid­fielder Javier Pa­s­tore.

In re­cent weeks, they have spo­ken about be­ing un­sure if they will stay. Los­ing all three would dec­i­mate PSG’s at­tack, de­priv­ing it of all­time lead­ing scorer Ca­vani and two play­ers still in their peak years.

Pa­s­tore has been at the club since the sum­mer of 2011, and was the first ma­jor sign­ing af­ter cash-rich Qatari own­ers QSI took over the club.

Now he could be one of sev­eral head­ing for the door.

‘‘We’ll see what hap­pens, I don’t know,’’ Pa­s­tore said. ‘‘We haven’t dis­cussed things yet. PSG has big am­bi­tions and is al­ways look­ing for new tal­ent.’’

The club must also try to keep key mid­fielder Marco Ver­ratti, who has been linked with Real Madrid.

Madrid is aim­ing to win its third straight Cham­pi­ons League ti­tle, while PSG’s in­abil­ity to even reach the last four re­mains a source of frus­tra­tion.

NEW SIGN­INGS

While PSG hopes to keep its glit­ter­ing at­tack to­gether, it needs to look at strength­en­ing its mid­field and de­fense while pos­si­bly ac­quir­ing a new goal­keeper.

Vet­eran de­fen­sive mid­fielder Thi­ago Motta is 35 and show­ing signs of de­cline, while the 33-yearold cen­ter back Thi­ago Silva is past his best.

Emery even left Silva, the club cap­tain, out of the first leg away to Madrid in the last 16 of the Cham­pi­ons League.

While goal­keeper Alphonse Are­ola is promis­ing, he still lacks the com­mand­ing pres­ence and ex­pe­ri­ence PSG needs on the Euro­pean stage. Are­ola and Ger­many’s Kevin Trapp, his in­con­sis­tent back up, could both be sold as PSG looks to bring in a big-name goalie such as Chelsea’s Thibaut Cour­tois, an es­tab­lished in­ter­na­tional with Bel­gium.

It prom­ises to be a busy sum­mer at PSG.

PHOTO: GETTY IM­AGES

PSG signed Brazil­ian su­per­star Ney­man from Barcelona for 360 mil­lion eu­ros.

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