By Robin Bairner
Season 2012-13 was Paris Saint-Germain’s most successful for nearly two decades as they affirmed their dominance in France by winning the Ligue 1 title and announced themselves as a genuine European force by running Barcelona close in the quarter-finals of the Champions League before being eliminated via the away goals rule. Nevertheless, the summer promises to be tricky for the Parisiens to negotiate, with the financial muscle of Monaco looming over them as Carlo Ancelotti’s uncertain future clouds what should be a period of celebration for the newly-crowned champions.
While there can be few doubts about the quality of PSG’s squad, there are nevertheless concerns that certain players are starting to become unsettled and maintaining their star men will likely be more on the agenda than acquiring new ones over the coming weeks.
Goal looks at what the summer might bring for the French champions.
PSG have already indicated that this summer will be a good deal quieter than last season’s frenzy, which saw them capture Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Thiago Silva amongst others.
Although the volume of signings is expected to reduce, the ambition of the side from the French capital certainly has not. Should Gareth Bale complete his move to Real Madrid from Tottenham, PSG are poised to do everything in their powers to secure the signing of Cristiano Ronaldo. Although the Portuguese is unsettled in Spain, the scale of the task in securing his signature was emphasised by Real Madrid president Florentino Perez, who said his club would not even sell for €1 billion.
Failing this, PSG see Wayne Rooney as the man to add extra dynamism to their attacking midfield sector. The Manchester United star has handed in a transfer request at Old Trafford and is reportedly open to a move to France.
Highly-promising Lille left-back Lucas Digne is another player who could arrive in the summer, with his €15 million asking price unlikely to deter PSG, who are eager to add promising young French players to their stable – particularly when they can immediately add quality to the starting XI.
Talk of other signings has largely been muted, though Newcastle’s Yohan Cabaye has been sounded out as one possible target to increase the depth of their midfield if there are unexpected departures. Equally, Saint-Etienne forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been sounded out as an offensive option, though he would prefer a move abroad if he is to leave Christophe Galtier's side.
The future of many PSG stars has been cast as doubtful over the course of the last month as Carlo Ancelotti’s longevity at the club remains questionable. Although the agents of Thiago Silva and Zlatan Ibrahimovic have asserted that the players will remain at Parc des Princes, these doubts remain. Ezequiel Lavezzi appears particularly tied to the Italian coach but, if the former Chelsea boss was to leave for Real Madrid, it seems that he would be likely to take Marco Verratti with him.
Jeremy Menez, meanwhile, has suggested that he would be open to a move to Monaco, though it is difficult to see PSG agreeing to a transfer without making an upgrade to their squad.
Several others will be deemed surplus to requirements, perhaps most notably Mamadou Sakho, who seems to have grown uneasy under Ancelotti. The club’s youngest ever captain has been forced into something of a reserve role at Parc des Princes behind Alex and Thiago Silva, though he has still managed to play a surprising quantity of matches and that may just be enough to keep the Paris boy close to home.
Kevin Gameiro, who has never really found room under Ancelotti, is one player who looks odds on to depart, meanwhile. The France international is not a player without options, as the likes of Borussia Dortmund have been linked with the rapid forward.
Javier Pastore is another high-profile player who could depart if a sufficient offer arrives, though it is likely PSG’s asking price would put suitors off.
Much of this will only be decided when the future of their coach is made clear.
This is the area of greatest uncertainty for PSG as things stand. Head coach Carlo Ancelotti has made it clear that he wishes to depart for Real Madrid but the Spaniards’ interest has cooled over recent days.
If Ancelotti was to remain in Paris, which is what president Nasser Al-Khelaifi and sporting director Leonardo wish, then there would be no issue but problems would arise should he leave.
PSG see Arsene Wenger as their long-term target but he will not leave Arsenal with a year remaining on his contract. Mourinho was another option but he is now confirmed as Chelsea's new manager. An interim appointment for a year is the ideal solution, and Leonardo was seen as the man to fill the void before being hit with a nine-month ban from official duties last week, which would see him suspended from the dugout until February. This is seen as problematic.
Elsewhere, Laurent Blanc and Roberto Mancini are considered options. PSG have already spoken with the former Manchester City boss but are not convinced he is the correct man to lead their project forward.
Paris Saint-Germain’s summer will not truly be able to get going until Ancelotti’s future has been fixed. Much hinges on whether the Italian retains his place in the dugout, particularly in terms of which players remain on the club’s books. Predictions of a widespread exit of stars are exaggerated, though there can be little doubt Ancelotti’s departure would destabilise the squad. It would be up to the incoming coach to pick up the pieces.
Until a clearer picture is painted of the potential departures, it will be difficult for PSG to pinpoint their summer targets but they will certainly be less active in the transfer market than in recent times.