Friday, August 19, 2022

New-look Paris Saint-Germain in works: Kimpembe could lead exodus, Neymar might stay, Ronaldo rejected, more

Christophe Galtier has been in the Paris Saint-Germain job for nearly two weeks and the Frenchman has spent most of that time getting to grips with the massive task facing him and sporting adviser Luis Campos at Parc des Princes. The Ligue 1-winning former Lille OSC boss will get his first look at his players in action on Friday when they take on second tier outfit Quevilly Rouen Metropole in a friendly before heading to Japan to continue preseason preparations the following week, which you can stream on CBS Sports Network

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PSG preseason schedule

Friday, July 15

PSG vs. Quevilly-Rouen, 11 a.m. ET (CBS Sports Network)

Wednesday, July 20

PSG vs. Kawasaki, 6:30 a.m. ET (CBS Sports Network)

Saturday, July 23

PSG vs. Urawa Reds, 6 a.m. ET (CBS Sports Network)

Monday, July 25

PSG vs. Gamba Osaka, 6 a.m. ET (CBS Sports Network)

Undesirables

First and foremost on Galtier, Campos and the returning Antero Henrique’s list of priorities has been working out which players fit the vision for PSG’s future and those who could free up transfer funds or wage space while driving down the squad size to a more manageable number. Consequently, upwards of 10 senior figures have been told that they can move on this summer with Mauro Icardi, Georginio Wijnaldum, Leandro Paredes and Idrissa Gueye some of the most high-profile names on Henrique’s list of players who are free to find new clubs. Others, such as Presnel Kimpembe, are not considered undesirable like some of the others, but will not be kept if a suitable offer arrives — upwards of $50 million in the case of the France international who is now of serious interest to Chelsea.

Incoming

PSG hope to have more business done in the coming days with Inter Milan’s Milan Skriniar a key target for Campos as well as Sassuolo’s Gianluca Scamacca and Stade de ReimsHugo Ekitike to add to the arrival of Vitinha from FC Porto and the permanent acquisition of Nuno Mendes after last season’s loan spell. The Portuguese transfer guru’s arrival means that Les Parisiens are no longer playing ball with exorbitant demands from clubs for players of interest, which has seen Ekitike overtake Scamacca on the potential signings list while negotiations with Inter for Skriniar have taken time and Lille’s Renato Sanches remains in limbo. 

Despite Jorge Mendes’ best efforts, PSG have resisted the temptation to pursue Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo and instead prefer to focus on their current band of superstars with Kylian Mbappe, Lionel Messi and Neymar’s co-existence already complicated enough to handle without adding the Portuguese to the mix.

Discipline

Another key area to address is collective squad behavior, which Galtier alluded to when addressing Neymar’s future in his opening press conference. Galtier left the door open to the Brazilian superstar but also insisted on a specific vision for deploying the gifted 30-year-old. He needs Neymar to buy into that plan, and for now, PSG’s No. 10 is part of the squad and is not being pushed toward the exit in the way some others are. He could be allowed to leave if an acceptable offer materializes, as is the case with Kimpembe — so expect to see him head to Japan with PSG with the tour set to take place under strict conditions with ground rules laid out to all traveling party members. 

Despite being one of the last senior players to return to training due to this summer’s international action, Mbappe kept in shape using former club AS Monaco’s facilities under the watchful eyes of his family in the days leading up to his return to the capital. This area also extends beyond the men’s squad with Henrique taking on functions within the women’s setup after no shortage of controversy in recent times.

Youth

Tapping into the awesome potential of PSG’s youth academy has been problematic for many years now and Campos has already allowed Xavi Simons to move on and Edouard Michut could follow given Celtic’s recent interest. Both were players the fans had high hopes for, yet they were not given sufficient senior minutes and grew impatient hence the reluctance to fight too hard to retain either one, with a buy-back option preferred instead in Simons’ case. Henrique’s return and a focus on the new generation of talent coming through such as El Chadaille Bitshiabu has brought the topic of a potential partner club back into focus with SC Braga linked as a possible option before that link was refuted — for now — and RCD Espanyol also touted.

Plans

The PSG picture should look clearer by the time they take on FC Nantes in the Trophee des Champions in Tel Aviv at the end of this month just before the Ligue 1 season gets underway in early August. However, the priority is to get some business done in the coming days nearing the start of the Japan tour so that Galtier can begin to put his tactical plans into action against Kawasaki Frontale, Urawa Red Diamonds and Gamba Osaka without constantly switching out elements of the squad and adding new ones. Come domestic kick-off in Clermont on Aug. 6, this Parisien outfit should feel very different to the one which ended last season in disappointing fashion and nearly lost star man Mbappe to Real Madrid.

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