Dubai: Attack-minded Paris St-Germain will be in the unusual position of going on the defensive this month as the biggest clubs in the world come prowling for their prized assets.
The Ligue 1 giants have dominated the domestic scene since 2011 when Qatar Sports Investments took over the club, winning 22 trophies in France during that time, while also managing to attract global stars such as David Beckham, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Keylor Navas, Thiago Silva, Marco Verratti, Angel Di María, Mauro Icardi, Ander Herrera, Julian Draxler and Idrissa Gueye to play for them.
But it is their current front three that are attracting attention during this transfer window as Kylian Mbappe, Edinson Cavani and Neymar are all in the spotlight amid suggestions of a move to pastures new.
Last month, Lionel Messi paved the way for Neymar to return to Barcelona, tweeting that the stage is now set for him to come ‘home’ to Camp Nou, while Barca striker Antoine Griezmann has said he is keen to see the Brazilian back at the club. Neymar himself seems to be pushing hard to get out the exit door at Parc des Princes and back to Catalonia.
Mbappe looks set to become a Real Madrid ‘galactico’ and it is just a matter of time before he will be playing in La Liga rather than Ligue 1, and Cavani may be plying his trade in England before the end of January, with both Chelsea and Manchester United in the race for his signature.
Despite the size of PSG — they are rated the 11th richest club in the world and goalkeeper Sergio Rico said last week that they are “the biggest club in the world” — when Barcelona and Real Madrid come calling, they usually get their man.
Neymar is estimated to hold a price tag of around 100 million euros, and if Barca are convinced over the Brazilian’s fitness, the money will not be an issue.
Mbappe joining Real Madrid is “inevitable”, according to the vice president of his former club Monaco. Vadim Vasilyev told French media that Mbappe confided in him that it is his dream to become a great Real Madrid Player — a Galactico.
There were hints that Liverpool were interested in the young French striker, but 275 million-plus euros is probably out of their price range. Real, however, have a history of breaking the transfer record, and they seem pretty convinced that Mbappe will be worth it. If Mbappe wants to go and Real come in with the right offer, they surely can’t turn it down and he could well be on his way before the transfer window closes.
There is also the added incentive that players who move clubs are now permitted to play in the Champions League for their new team, even if they represented another side in earlier rounds that same season.
And that leaves Cavani. News emerged this week that both Manchester United and Chelsea are interested in signing the third PSG striker, leaving the French champions in real danger of seeing all three of their all-star front line head out the door.
PSG have been fending off Atletico Madrid, who want the Uruguayan to lead their attack, but with Cavani’s entourage making noises about big-money moves, the lure of the Premier League may see a transfer request on the PSG chairman’s desk as soon as this week.
In a worst-case scenario for PSG and all three say their goodbyes, where would it leave the club?
There one remaining first-team striker would be Mauro Icardi, and he isn’t even their player — he is on loan from Inter Milan until the end of the season. Their first move will be to secure him on a permanent contract, but big names would still be required quick smart.
One small problem. While the salaries are excellent, PSG and French football does not have the same attraction as La Liga in Spain or the Premier League in England. They may struggle to find players even close to the talent of Neymar, Mbappe and Cavani, who account for around 90 per cent of all PSG’s goals.
Winning the Champions League remains their ultimate goal. However, with all the money in the world, if players do not want to come to play in Ligue 1, PSG may find themselves struggling to keep up with Europe’s big boys once again.