With Galtier and Campos reunited, will PSG's change of approach pay off?

By Sports Desk August 03, 2022

Five years ago to the day, Paris Saint-Germain sent shockwaves across world football by paying a world-record amount to bring in Brazil superstar Neymar from LaLiga heavyweights Barcelona.

The €222million PSG splashed out on Neymar remains by far and away the most any team has ever paid for a player. Next on that list? Kylian Mbappe, who swapped Monaco for PSG that same transfer window, initially on loan, for a fee rising to €180m.

Indeed, across the past five years, the Parisians' gross outlay has hit a whopping €792m, which is around 40 per cent more than the preceding five-year period. If it was not clear enough upon Qatar Sports Investments' takeover in 2011, PSG will not stop in their pursuit of becoming the world's best team.

Yet here we are, more than a decade on from that acquisition going through, five years on from Mbappe and Neymar arriving, and 12 months on from Lionel Messi – the greatest player to have ever played the game in the view of many – joining from Barcelona, and PSG have very little to show for it.

Even consistently winning Ligue 1 has been a struggle across that period, with Lille and Monaco each finishing top over the past six seasons, while only once have they made it as far as the Champions League final – never mind winning the thing.

But after a period of change at the Parc des Princes, in which a new head coach and football advisor have been hired, the French giants appear ready to take a different approach on and off the field.



A winning combo

Falling at the last-16 stage of the Coupe de France and the Champions League in particular last season cost head coach Mauricio Pochettino his job after just 18 months in charge.

After a failed attempt to appoint Zinedine Zidane, who is seemingly intent on replacing Didier Deschamps as the next manager of the France national side, PSG opted against another big-name appointment and instead hired Christophe Galtier.

Tellingly, Galtier's appointment was made on the back of Luis Campos taking up a position as de facto sporting director, effectively tasked with overseeing all transfer activity. The pair previously worked together at Lille to create the team that pipped PSG to the Ligue 1 title by a point in 2020-21.

Three-time Ligue 1 Manager of the Year Galtier departed Lille for Nice days after that stunning title triumph, though he lasted just a single season on the French Riviera, the highlight being a run to the Coupe de France final, where they were beaten 1-0 by Nantes.

As for Campos, it was not only at Lille that he had great success, having also helped bring the likes of James Rodriguez, Fabinho, Anthony Martial, Bernardo Silva, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Thomas Lemar to Monaco in his previous job.



The bling days are over

Campos clearly has an eye for a player, then, and that has been reflected in PSG's transfer activity in a different kind of window this time around. The marquee signing of Messi last year has made way for the arrivals of Nuno Mendes, Vitinha, Hugo Ekitike and Nordi Mukiele heading into the 2022-23 season.

Even accounting for the €38m and €41.5m PSG handed over for the first two of those players alone, neither fit into the category of signing we have become accustomed to seeing at the Parc des Princes.

This is a clear tactic from the club, with president Nasser Al-Khelaifi himself admitting in an interview with Le Parisien earlier this year that "dreaming is one thing, reality is another", and that PSG no longer "want to be flashy or bling-bling; it's the end of the glitter".

Instead, Galtier will look to integrate hungry quartet Mendes, Vitinha, Ekitike and Mukiele into his squad, which already contains an all-star cast of talent across the field, most notably in attack where Messi, Mbappe and Neymar form one of the great all-time trios.

On paper, at least, as the front three did not exactly click last season in the manner many were expecting and Galtier has remained coy on the subject of Neymar's future since replacing Pochettino.

Sixth manager lucky in quest for Champions League crown?

With a new head coach comes a new approach, and Galtier was quick to implement a code of conduct for PSG's pre-season tour of Japan. Not only that, the 55-year-old made clear at his first news conference in charge exactly what he expects from every player.

"I want to see intensity, rhythm, and the players winning the ball back quickly high up the pitch," he said. "I haven't met the players yet but I've spoken with the management about what I want to do: demanding, hard work, respect, and the team above all. 

"No player will be above the team. My objective is that this sum of talents becomes a great team with great strength. I am convinced that together we can have the best season possible. If players step out of this framework, they will be cast aside."

To put it simply, the dynamic around PSG has completely altered in the space of two short months. Whether the change in direction pays off will ultimately not be answered until further down the line.

But having failed to achieve their aim of winning the Champions League with Carlo Ancelotti, Laurent Blanc, Unai Emery, Thomas Tuchel and Pochettino, PSG's wealthy backers believe the appointment of Campos and Galtier is ultimately a gamble worth taking.

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