Since Qatar Sports Investment (QSI) landed in Paris back in 2011, Paris Saint Germain have not been afraid to put their money where their mouth is in the transfer window – and despite a slow start to the summer – momentum seems to be building after Antero Henrique was appointed as Sporting Director.
Dani Alves, a man considered to be the best right back in the world, alongside Spanish full back Yuri Berchiche have already been brought in this summer and amongst amid links of PSG considering a world record move for Neymar or Alexis Sanchez I discuss which direction PSG should spend their money.
To start with I think it’s worth stating that PSG have every right to spend big this summer. The Qatari project for European dominance has been stalling for a season or two now with PSG unable to get past the quarter finals of the UEFA Champions League, but after the collapse to Barcelona last season a round early and unacceptably failing to win Ligue 1 the whole club needs to reignite it’s uniquely high ambitions, starting this summer in the transfer window.
Firstly both moves make a lot of sense. Since the departure of Zlatan Ibrahimović last year the capital club have lacked leadership and more importantly a focal point up front. Edinson Cavani stepped up with 49 goals in 50 games last season but lacks the same reputation and dominance in the team that Ibra had previously, both Alexis Sanchez and Neymar can fill that void.
That said Neymar certainly has the edge over Alexis Sanchez when it comes to being a household name. The Brazilian has been in the shadow of Lionel Messi since joining Barcelona – a key reason why he may decide to change career path to France – but Neymar is not unexperienced to being put under high pressure either. Being nicknamed the “Golden Boy” of Brazilian football certainly adds weight onto your shoulders and the 25 year-old lead Brazil successfully to the semi finals of the 2014 World Cup before unfortunately being sidelined through injury, and you don’t need reminding how that story ended.
The news broke on Tuesday that PSG were in talks with Neymar and were prepared to trigger his release clause with a £195 million bid. The money involved is extraordinary – comfortably breaking the current record transfer fee set at £89 million for Paul Pogba – but QSI may be willing to spend big to bring in a player with such a worldwide reputation and global recognition that comes with it.
“If PSG want to rival Bayern (Munich), Real (Madrid) and Barcelona, we need a player in the top five in the world”
Unai Emery, espn.co.uk
Alexis Sanchez, on the other hand, would cost far less with the potential to have just as big of an impact on the pitch as Neymar would. Sanchez is arguably more versatile and flexible than Neymar, even scoring more goals – thirty compared to Neymar’s twenty – in a more competitive division last season
If brought by PSG, both players would play on the left wing which opens up a number of promising options for Unai Emery. The most likely outcome would see PSG revert to Emery’s preferred 4-2-3-1 formation in which either player would fit in nicely on the left, pushing Julian Draxler more centrally. Whilst both South Americans can play backup to Edinson Cavani, Alexis Sanchez would be more suited to playing that lone striker role after playing over half of last season at Arsenal in that position with good effect.
Both have reasons to switch career paths to Paris this summer too: Sanchez in his quest for Champions League glory; Neymar to become the main man and win the Ballon d’Or – not forgetting the attraction of a massive pay rise on offer would either move to the French capital.
If I was to choose, as a PSG supporter Alexis Sanchez stands out as the practical option but the attraction of seeing Neymar playing in Paris next season is just too compelling and it wouldn’t be at all surprising if QSI put their money where there mouth is once again and pay up the £195 million for a future club legend.