Paris Saint Germain (PSG)’s elimination from the Champions League has happened yet again this year.
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They have typically ended their careers with a stunning fall at the hands of one of the game’s legendary heavyweights, sometimes amid controversy and conspiracy theories.
They were defeated 3-0 on aggregate by Bayern Munich in the round of 16, and this time they exited with a whimper. Their aspirations of European greatness appear fainter and further away than ever after twelve years of existence under the management of Qatar Sports Investments.
Invariably, PSG’s struggles against Europe’s elite are seen as a tale of excess, of “flashy bling-bling,” as club president Nasser Al-Khelaifi put it last summer, an apparent admission that PSG, under his leadership, had been too preoccupied with stardust and glamour. However, PSG did reach the Champions League final in 2020 and a semi-final in 2021.
Yet it has also been a tale of what they lack, namely the shared identity that the finest teams possess and a sense of belonging to both the club and one another. As Al-Khelaifi stated too much “flashy bling-bling” and “the end of glitter”, he also spoke of the need to “build a true squad, discover a real collective spirit” with “players who are proud to represent PSG and ready to battle every day”.
The PSG president continued, “My ambition for the next several years is to have only Parisian players in our team.
Why in the world didn’t they consider this sooner? PSG is the only club with access to the quality necessary to assemble a squad capable of competing in Europe.
The figures are astonishing. No fewer than 11 of the 26 members of France’s World Cup team last year were born within 15 miles of Paris’s center:
- Alphonse Areola
- Jules Kounde
- Ibrahima Konate
- William Saliba
- Youssouf Fofana
- Axel Disasi
- Matteo Guendouzi
- Adrien Rabiot
- Randal Kolo Muani
- Kingsley Coman
- Kylian Mbappe
There are also players like Tanguy Nianzou, Ferland Mendy, N’Golo Kante, Paul Pogba, Christopher Nkunku, and Anthony Martial who were not selected for the France team.
That’s before you take into account the number of players from Paris who were called up by other teams due to their dual citizenship, reflecting migration from Cameroon, Ghana, Senegal, Morocco, and Tunisia in addition to Portugal (Borussia Dortmund full-back Raphael Guerreiro) and, in the case of Southampton defender Armel Bella-Kotchap, migration to Germany when he was a young child. If Algeria hadn’t lost to Cameroon in the World Cup qualification play-off, Riyad Mahrez, who was born and raised in the Sarcelles neighborhood of northern Paris, would have fit this description.