PSG re-emerge weakened but with eyes fixed on Champions League prize

PARIS (AFP) – Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) are still optimistic they can win the Champions League for the first time when the tournament is played out in Lisbon in August, even if the coronavirus crisis has left the Qatar-owned club apparently weakened both on the field and off it.

The decision to bring an early end to the French season in late April, with more than a quarter of matches unplayed, did not prevent PSG from being crowned Ligue 1 champions for the third year running, but it was hardly how they wanted things to end.

Without having had the chance to celebrate, the Parisians returned to training on Monday, over three months after their last game.

Their players have since spent months confined at home before having some time to take a holiday.

PSG’s rivals in England, Spain, Germany and Italy are back playing again. In contrast, Neymar returned to France last weekend after three months in Brazil and headed straight to join teammates Marco Verratti, Angel Di Maria, Leandro Paredes and Marquinhos in the glitzy Mediterranean resort of Saint-Tropez.

Meanwhile, Kylian Mbappe posted photos of himself on Instagram along the coast in Monaco.

They return this week to a club having to deal with the financial consequences of the pandemic and the early end to the season, with the resulting losses of ticketing and broadcast revenue.

Within PSG, it is estimated they stand to lose over EUR200 million.

That will probably ensure there are no headline-grabbing transfers coming soon, although they recently made Argentine striker Mauro Icardi’s loan move from Inter Milan permanent for a reported fee of up to EUR58 million.

The financial situation has also helped make up the mind of PSG Sporting Director Leonardo over the futures of Thiago Silva and Edinson Cavani.

“Maybe we are making a mistake, I don’t know, there is never a perfect moment,” Leonardo told Le Journal du Dimanche.

It is hoped Brazilian defender Silva, the club captain, can be persuaded to stay to feature in the Champions League latter stages, but club record goal-scorer Cavani has reportedly opted to walk away at the end of June.

Right-back Thomas Meunier, reportedly bound for Dortmund, will not stick around. Highly talented 18-year-old defender Tanguy Kouassi is expected to sign for Bayern Munich.

However, the prospects of either Mbappe or Neymar leaving appear less than slim, given the financial challenges faced by PSG’s European rivals.