One of the biggest and most successful football clubs in the world, Real Madrid faced Paris St Germain at UCL Round of 16. Not just the Los Blancos fans but everyone who knows something about the sport might predict that it would be an unparalleled encounter. Madrid could surely dominate the match and secure the next round with relative ease. That would be a certain case if the match would have happened a decade ago but at present, the real scenario is something else.
The 1st leg which took place in Parc Des Princes ended with a result of 1-0 and the winner is the Parisian club. For argument’s sake, one might say that PSG has to play at Santiago Bernabeu. The fact is PSG was far more superior on that evening and the surprising reality is no one felt that the outcome is an accident. The club of the French capital was established in 1970 and a much younger club compared to its European compatriots. Paris Saint Germain is not a weak team anymore, rather it is now a superpower.
Rise of Paris St Germain
On the pitch:
Ten years ago Qatar Sports Investment bought the club and after that event, the history of the institution has taken a sharp turn and started to move on a path that has completely shifted the course. Before that, Marseille and Olympique Lyon were the two best clubs in France and PSG rarely made some noises. Some legendary players had played here but before reaching their pick like Ronaldinho. Once they had David Ginola, George Weah, Ricardo, Rai, Valdo, Bravo, and Le Guen That was a great team in the club’s history and they won UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup and The French Cup.
Before Qatari take over, they won 2 League1 titles, 8 Coupe de France, 3 Coupe de la Ligue, and 2 Trophees Des Champions. And now they added 7 more league titles in their trophy case. They also boasted with the most Coupe de France(14), most Coupe de la Ligue (9), and most Trophees Des Champions (10) in the division. Such is their domination domestically that the gaze of desire falls further afield, their eyes are firmly focused on the European glory and in 2020 they reached the closest. Beaten by Bayern Munich at the final. This is the tenth occasion in a row, they are playing in the prime contest of the continent and this time they will surely try to taste the glory.
Money is not the problem anymore as the club is owned by QSI and backed by Qatar state and the authority precisely. President Nasser Al Khelaifi spent in such a way that gives the impression that money is nothing. They caught the world in a storm in 2017 after paying the buyout clause of Neymar which was $222 million. At the same transfer window, they secured the service of the French World Cup Winner Kiliyan Mbappe from Monaco with an initial loan move. Which became a permanent transfer one season later, and the fee was 167 million USD. Both of them tops the list of the costliest transfer in the history of club football. Even before the signing of Neymar, Nasser bought plenty of talented and famous players. He signed Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Edinson Cavani, Angel Di Maria, Thiago Silva, Marco Verratti and the list goes on.
Paris St Germain: From Minnows to Global Powerhouse
The on-field success followed instantly nevertheless, the off-field achievement is even more. PSG was a club about which almost no foreign fans were aware. They have 500000 followers on social media and registered fans and 95% of them are local. Their jersey, souvenir, and other merchandise hadn’t been sold outside the capital of the country. Their area of earning was also short and restricted. Fans came to the stadium but in most cases, there were plenty of empty seats. Only the loyal fans came to enjoy the matches as they were not a strong contender for winning any title.
Now it seems like these are the tales of light-years ago, the scenario has altered completely. This season, they have experienced huge success in the transfer window. They have signed Euro Champion Goalkeeper Donnarumma, UCL winning midfielder Wijnaldum. They also signed Ex-Captain of Spain and RMA, Sergio Ramos, and the best player in the world Lionel Messi. All four of them came for free but it doesn’t matter. What does matter is securing their signing at the same window and results follow shortly.
PSG is now a club of 150 million followers and the lion’s share of them are foreigners. They have a flagship outlet at the heart of the capital. Where not everything is just involved with football but has a relation with many other things. They have official stores in Seoul, Tokyo, Doha, and Los Angeles. Having Leo Messi at their disposal helps them a lot financially. Now they have endorsement contracts with 26 companies including Jordan, Dior, Hugo Boss to name a few. They sold more than a million jerseys at the end of the last season. Fans across the world battle to have a ticket nowadays as the capacity is merely 45000.
There are many accusations against the culture of State backing clubs. The clubs like PSG don’t intend to follow the Financial Fair Play rules and therefore break the harmony of the transfer market. These are the talks of criticizers, in most cases, the words are true. However, no one could deny the impact PSG has created. They even make French people proud as it’s for them now the football world talk about French club football. And who could say a word as PSG defeated Real Madrid in the first leg. PSG was on the verge of eliminating the most successful club in the history of European football.