There are times when it can seem like the later stages of the Champions League are a bit of a passing the pack game. If you are involved often enough, in seasons where there is no obvious bright side, the music will eventually stop at you. At least a couple of Real Madrid’s recent successes, and Chelsea’s in 2012, fall into that category, and it may be happening to Paris Saint-Germain this season.
Maybe that’s unfair. PSG at the moment is a very difficult side to read, with their resistance in Champions League matches completely offside with some very irregular domestic performances (paradoxically, of course, facing a greater challenge at home may be to toughen up the PSG case for the challenge abroad). If there are a couple more years of consistent success in the Champions League, it is possible that these last nine months will come to be seen as the gestation of PSG’s golden age.
What now seems certain is that Neymar will be part of that immediate future. His contract expires in June of next year, but the expectation now is that he will accept a new deal.
“I don’t think this is just another topic; Obviously I feel very comfortable, at home at PSG, ”he told Brazil’s TNT Sports after PSG beat Bayern on away goals in the Champions League quarter-finals on Tuesday.
PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi was equally optimistic that extension agreements would be reached with both Neymar and Kylian Mbappé, whose contract ends at the same time. He said that “there was no reason to leave” for any of the players and specified that “I think that next year Neymar will be at PSG and will stay here for a long time.”
This is certainly not how things seemed a couple of years ago, when Neymar was openly unhappy at PSG and looking for a move. Circumstances, however, have conspired to make you stay on the only realistic course of action. He was signed for a fee of 222 million euros in 2017 as a statement: PSG wanted to break the world record for transfers and must have known the inflationary impact that that price would have on the market, something that played in the hands of clubs that not only depended on from traditional sources of income.
The question now is whether that brand will ever break down in the future. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced a reassessment of finances and highlighted those who were living beyond their means. Barcelona, with debts of almost $ 1.5 billion, is unlikely to be in a position to bring Neymar back to Spain anytime soon. Meanwhile, political changes have effectively eliminated China as a potential destination, as clubs are discouraged from overspending. Essentially, a 29-year-old has few options left; Neymar is unlikely to find a better deal than the one he already has in Paris.
It may be different for Mbappé, who is 22 years old and could be one of the two or three leading players in the world for the next decade. Regardless of what Al-Khelaifi says, there is still a long way to go before a new deal is agreed for him, with Real Madrid interested and Harry Kane, who is increasingly frustrated with Tottenham’s stagnation, regarded as a possible replacement.
That is if Mbappé wants to leave, a situation that seems fluid. The talk was that he felt he had surpassed French football, but as the game’s power map is redrawn after COVID, it is not obvious that a transfer to Spain, at least in the short term, would be a step forward. , especially if Mauricio Pochettino is beginning to cultivate serious European power in Paris.
Without a doubt, reaching the final of the Champions League last season and the semi-final (so far) this season are greater achievements than anything a club known for choking on key moments has ever accomplished before. However, evaluating how good those performances have been is not easy. With Thomas Tuchel last season, PSG made it through the quarter-finals against Atalanta, and although they comfortably beat RB Leipzig in the semi-finals, the 1-0 score in the final did not represent the gap between PSG and Bayern in that. moment.
This season, however, the victory over Barcelona was overwhelming, while the tie against Bayern was a classic. The fact that it could have gone either way in a sense magnified PSG’s achievement, as that’s precisely the kind of matchup they would have lost in the past. Pochettino has a habit of getting ahead through close ties. If that is the result of a resistance that you have managed to instill, then the future in Paris could be very bright.
Mbappé was brilliant in the first leg against Barcelona; Neymar stood out in the second leg against Bayern. They might feel like the tide is rising and that could lift them. In PSG history, this feels like a vital couple of months.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.