Paris possesses such an array of outstanding qualities that is impossible not to feel a bit in envy of those who inhabit the French capital. Freshly baked baguettes, breathtaking architecture, excellent food, the Eiffel Tower, not to mention the beautiful women, have long made La Ville Lumiere one of the world’s focal points.
Until recently though, Paris was a crucial ingredient short of matching the glamour of cities such as Milan, Madrid, Barcelona, London and, to a lesser extent, Manchester (no Manchester bias here!) – a successful football club.
Thanks to the seemingly bottomless pit of cash that is in the Qatar Investment Authority’s wallet, Paris’ profile in world football has raised enormously over the last 24 months as PSG have launched a ferocious recruiting campaign, cherry picking some of the world’s best players and luring them to the Parc des Princes.
The last time a French organisation operated with such swiftness and purpose across the continent, Napoleon was in charge, but even he would baulk at PSG’s incredible financial resources.
The Parisians’ last signing, Edinson Cavani, yesterday became the fifth most expensive player of all time, behind the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Zinedine Zidane, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Kaka.
To fully grasp the size of the latest French revolution, simply consider this statistic: PSG currently have four of the 30 most expensive players of all times in their ranks – five considering Zlatan Ibrahimovic, for whom Barcelona poured £59m in Inter Milan’s coffers in 2009.
Cavani will join a stellar and ever-growing cast including the likes of Lucas Moura, former Napoli team-mate Ezequiel Lavezzi, Javier Pastore and Brazil’s captain Thiago Silva, while his arrival casts doubts over Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s future.
Having been pipped to the title by Montpellier two seasons ago, PSG’s spending spree began to yield dividends last year as the Parisians secured their first league title since 1994 and came within a whisker of knocking Barcelona out of the Champions League, the competition every ambitious club lives and dies by in modern football.
This summer, however, the French champions have parted ways with director of football Leonardo and manager Carlo Ancelotti whose replacement, former France manager Laurent Blanc, was only the fourth or fifth name on the club’s list.
Despite this slight faux pas, the arrival of Cavani is as strong a statement of intent as any PSG have made in the last two years, beating the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City in the race for the Uruguayan.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva’s arrivals were facilitated by AC Milan’s need to offload two big earners, Lucas Moura, for all his potential, was unproven in Europe, while Ezequiel Lavezzi and Javier Pastore had excelled in Serie A, but where somewhat short of being world-class players.
Cavani, instead, is a ready-made signing, a lethal finisher and a superb all-round player who scored 104 goals in just 138 appearances for Napoli in all competitions, including 29 in 34 Serie A games last season.
The Uruguayan’s transformation from wide striker at Palermo to goal machine under Mount Vesuvius was nothing short of remarkable but, despite Napoli’s attempts, the feeling was that, now at the peak of his power, Cavani would have to leave the Peninsula if he was to add more silverware to his trophy cabinet.
Whether he’ll do so at PSG, remains to be seen for while the Parisians are overwhelming favourites to retain their crown, Laurent Blanc will have a job on his hands in keeping a dressing room full of stars and bloated egos happy.
At Cavani’s official unveiling, PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi spoke of the club’s new profile: “The arrival of Edinson Cavani demonstrates the ability of the club to attract the best players in the world.
“The player seduced by our project is pleased to join an ambitious and eager to take on new challenges team. We are particularly pleased to offer the Parisian public a player of immense talent and one who is coveted everywhere.”
Over the last decade, Chelsea and Manchester City have embarked on spending sprees that have completely transformed their profiles, but the last time European football saw such a stellar cast assembled in such a short was at the time of Real Madrid’s Galacticos.
For them, as for PSG now, European glory was the ultimate benchmark by which their expectations were measured. The Qatar Investment Authority plans to lift the Champions League within the next four years, Edinson Cavani’s goals could prove crucial in turning the dream into reality.
Do PSG have what it takes to become serious contender for the Champions League? Are you surprised by Cavani’s decision to snub Chelsea and City? We want your views so have your say below or get involved on our Facebook page or Twitter feed.