PSG Coach
Paris St Germain unveil new coach Luis Enrique at PSG Training Centre, Poissy, France on Tuesday Image Credit: Reuters

Paris: Paris Saint-Germain fired coach Christophe Galtier after a disappointing season on Wednesday and replaced him with former Spain and Barcelona manager Luis Enrique.

Enrique was introduced at a press conference hours after Galtier was dismissed. Club president Nasser Al Khelaifi said his arrival will mark the start of a “new cycle, with a new style of play.”

PSG in an earlier statement thanked Galtier, who had one year left to run on his contract, “for his professionalism and commitment.”

Galtier’s assistants Thierry Oleksiak and João Sacramento were also been fired.

In its so far ill-fated quest for Champions League glory, PSG appointed an eighth coach in 12 years of Qatari ownership, with World Cup top scorer Kylian Mbappé set to play for a fifth coach since joining in 2017.

Revamping squad

Enrique has been without a contract since Spain’s elimination from the World Cup last year.

The 53-year-old coach took over the national team in 2018 to start revamping the squad after its elimination in the round of 16 of the World Cup in Russia. He temporarily left because of the illness and eventual death of his young daughter, but returned in 2019.

He helped Spain reach the last four of the Nations League twice, and also led it to the semi-finals of the European Championship. He was more successful with Barcelona, winning the Champions League, La Liga, and Copa del Rey in his first season in charge.

Galtier led PSG to another French league title as expected, but the club was eliminated early in the Champions League and the French Cup by rival Marseille this past season. PSG’s form slumped after the World Cup, with 10 losses in 28 games in 2023.

Glaring weaknesses

PSG was unbeaten in all competitions when the European season paused in November for the World Cup in Qatar.

Mbappé’s league-leading 29 goals arguably saved the club from losing the title, which was retained with only one game to spare, and just one point ahead of unheralded Lens.

PSG’s final game was a 3-2 defeat to modest Clermont and highlighted the glaring weaknesses in midfield and defence that Mbappé’s goals have papered over.

In addition to his star-studded team’s mediocre performances, Galtier was destabilised by allegations he made racist and anti-Muslim comments when he was in charge of French club Nice. He has been summoned to stand trial in December as part of the investigation.

Two-year contract

Galtier signed a two-year contract last July after leaving Nice, which hired him after the French coach’s outstanding leadership led Lille to the title over PSG in 2021 in a huge upset. Lille was the only team to deny PSG the trophy in six seasons with Mbappe, who joined for €180 million ($194 million) after winning the title with Monaco in 2017.

Since cash-rich Qatari investors QSI took over in June 2011, Carlo Ancelotti is the only coach not to be fired, leaving for Real Madrid in 2013.

But Ancelotti was hired only after Antoine Kombouare was astonishingly axed in December 2011 when PSG was three points clear of Montpellier at the top. PSG lost the title by three points in an embarrassing defeat, and the casual way in which Kombouare was replaced set the tone for over a decade of musical chairs.

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Mbappe sent a letter to PSG last month stating that he had no intention of extending his contract, which expires in 2024. Image Credit: AFP

'PSG will not let Mbappe go for free'

PSG forward Kylian Mbappe must sign a new contract if he wants to stay at the club as the French champions will not let him leave for free next year, club president Nasser Al Khelaifi said on Wednesday.

Mbappe sent a letter to PSG last month stating that he had no intention of extending his contract, which expires in 2024.

But he later clarified that he had not asked the French club to allow him to move to Spanish giants Real Madrid, who have in the past tried and failed to land the World Cup-winning forward.

PSG face the dilemma of allowing Mbappe to run down the final year of his contract and being unable to recoup any of the €180 million  ($195.71 million) they spent in 2017 to sign him from AS Monaco.

"My position is very clear. I don't want to repeat it every time: if Kylian wants to stay, we want him to stay. But he needs to sign a new contract," Al-Khelaifi told reporters after unveiling Luis Enrique as the club's new manager.

"We don't want to lose the best player in the world for free, we can't do that. This is a French club.

'Best player'

"He said he would never leave for free. If he changes his mind today, it's not my fault. We don't want to lose the best player in the world for free, that's very clear." Mbappe has finished as Ligue 1's top scorer in the last five seasons and PSG will be eager to keep him having already lost Lionel Messi on a free transfer.

Messi, a seven-times Ballon d'Or winner, opted not to renew his contract for a move to Inter Miami.

Mbappe also said French President Emmanuel Macron had no influence on his career choices after the leader said he would push for the forward to stay in the country's capital.