How PSG's €200m spending spree compares to Abramovich's Chelsea & Abu Dhabi's Manchester City

PSG turned into a European giant after being taken over by QIA in May 2011, but how has their spending compared to the first 14 months of City and Chelsea's opulent ownerships?
By Robin Bairner | French Football Editor

On May 31, 2011, a new dawn was signalled for Paris Saint-Germain when they were taken over by the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA). Previously a big club floundering in the middle of the Ligue 1 table due to a recent history of mismanagement and a lack of direction, the first step to becoming a European superpower had been taken.

It was a dramatic shift in the power of the Parisian club, the type of which is increasingly being lamented by purists in the modern game. Roman Abramovich’s takeover of Chelsea set the trend towards the start of the millennium, while the purchasing of Manchester City by Sheikh Mansour represents the other successful acquisition of a high-profile club.

Over the course of the two years, QIA have lavished over €200m on signings for the Parc des Princes outfit, breaking the French transfer record in the process as they acquired Javier Pastore for a reported €42m last season.

Not to be outdone this summer, PSG have already bolstered their squad by adding Ezequiel Lavezzi before a sensational double swoop for AC Milan duo Thiago Silva and Zlatan Ibrahimovic – two players of undisputed world-class ability, the type of which haven’t been acquired by a Ligue 1 club in many years.

Ibra arrives for a relatively modest fee of €23m, but he comfortably sits in French football's top 10 most expensive acquisitions, while Lavezzi's €30m and Thiago Silva's €40m are both in the top four, which is monopolised by PSG signings (the other being their addition of Nicolas Anelka from Real Madrid back in 2000).

Even youngster Marco Verratti arrives with a big reputation for a teenager, and he has a price tag to match, with the capital side paying Pescara €10m for his acquisition.

The manner in which PSG’s squad has evolved may have been dramatic, but it has not been the swift transformation that Chelsea experienced in the weeks following Roman Abramovich’s purchase in July 2003. Funded by the Russian billionaire, the Blues would sign over €150m worth of talent in their first summer, capturing Damien Duff, Hernan Crespo, Claude Makelele, Adrian Mutu and Juan Sebastian Veron for fees greater than €19m.

In total, the net spending of Chelsea in Abramovich’s first year came to a deficit of over €170m.

A year later, Claudio Ranieri, who now coaches super-rich Monaco in France’s Ligue 2, was jettisoned and Jose Mourinho given the Stamford Bridge reigns. Although the squad was trimmed, spending was not cut back, with Didier Drogba, Ricardo Carvalho and Arjen Robben the marquee additions. The Blues' total spend would come up just short of €150m, nearly matching the previous summer's effort.

12 Jun 2011 Kevin Gameiro (Forward)
25 Jul 2011 Milan Bisevac (Defender)
25 Jul 2011 Blaise Matuidi (Midfielder)
25 Jul 2011 Jeremy Menez (Winger)
28 Jul 2011 Salvatore Sirigu (Goalkeeper)
28 Jul 2011 Mohamed Sissoko (Midfielder)
6 Aug 2011 Javier Pastore (Midfielder)
27 Aug 2011 Diego Lugano (Defender) €3m
12 Jan 2012 Maxwell (Defender) €7m
27 Jan 2012 Alex(Defender) €5m
31 Jan 2012 Thiago Motta (Defender) €10m
2 Jul 2012 Ezequiel Lavezzi (Winger)
14 Jul 2012 Thiago Silva (Defender)
18 Jul 2012 Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Forward)
18 Jul 2012 Marco Verratti (Midfielder) €10m
  TOTAL €212.6m

Manchester City’s alterations were rather less dramatic, although this was partially caused by their takeover in 2008 occurring in late August, with the transfer window rapidly shutting. Although they dramatically captured Robinho from Real Madrid with the seconds ticking away for a mammoth fee of €43m, stating their ambition to the world in the process, there was little initial change to the squad, with Vincent Kompany, Pablo Zabaleta and Shaun-Wright Philips the only players they were able to scramble into the squad.

Time might have been short, but over €70m was spent.

It was in January that City did much of their work, plundering the domestic market to sign Wayne Bridge, Shay Given and Craig Bellamy, while Nigel De Jong arrived from abroad, with close to the same sum paid once more.

A year later, they really began to flex their muscles. Carlos Tevez arriving from under the noses of crosstown rivals Manchester United was their greatest statement of intent, with the unlikely nature of this addition mirroring that of PSG’s capture of Ibrahimovic. Meanwhile, the signing of Joleon Lescott for a princely sum could be seen as their equivalent of Les Parisiens’ Thiago Silva capture.

City were serious; and they showed that by spending nearly €139m that second summer.

PSG’s shopping spree doesn’t quite match that of their English predecessors in terms of scale yet, but with rumours that they could yet move for Real Madrid’s Kaka – the question of how he fits into the team clearly less considered than the size of his fee – they could yet draw level with their Premier League counterparts.

Spending money is easy, if you have it, that is. But getting value for that money is more difficult and it is what PSG will ultimately be judged on in years to come.

Comparisons with Mourinho’s Chelsea are tricky, as that was a team built from the back, with defensive solidarity paramount, whereas PSG have focused much of their spending on the other end of the field.

In terms of an attacking trio, there is little doubt that the French club’s options are now far superior to the Joe Cole, Eidur Gudjohnsen and Damien Duff triumvirate most frequently used by the Portuguese. This was, remember, a time when Drogba was not fully established and Robben was persistently plagued by injury.

With the summer additions of Lavezzi and Ibrahimovic, PSG are oozing offensive talent. This pair are augmented by Jeremy Menez, Nene and Pastore, not to mention France internationals Kevin Gameiro and Guillaume Hoarau, who have rarely had a look in under Ancelotti.

Equally, though, Chelsea’s defence was far better than an area that has been a real Achilles heel for PSG, whose massive purchase of Thiago Silva is a symptom of their particular weakness.



Salvatore Sirigu


Christophe Jallet

Thiago Silva




Momo Sissoko

Thiago Motta


Jeremy Menez

Javier Pastore

Ezequiel Lavezzi


Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Manchester City were constructed along the same route as the Paris giants, seemingly stockpiling attacking players with little consideration as to the system they could be deployed in. Mercurial talents Carlos Tevez, Emmanuel Adebayor and Craig Bellamy offered fine offensive options, and would score the goals to back this up, but at the back City struggled.

In their first two seasons, the Citizens failed to capture a defensive player of Thiago Silva’s stature, and as a result they failed to make truly significant headway in the Premier League - finishing 10th and then fifth.

Chelsea’s ascent was quicker due to the tactical acumen of Mourinho, but the relative strength of the league meant that the manager was more important. They won the title under the Portuguese at the first attempt, and Ancelotti will be aiming to match this feat in Ligue 1 this term.

PSG’s level of spending means that anything other than first place will be cast as a disappointment for the Parc des Princes club, whose real test of strength will come in the Champions League. But just as the Blues discovered, this is a very different challenge to the domestic game, taking Abramovich & Co. nine seasons before scaling that particular summit back in May this year.

For long-term success, even two summers of spending is unlikely to be enough for PSG.

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