The greatest player of all time on a free. Real Madrid’s legendary captain on a free. A key cog of Inter Milan’s title-winning team bought. Best player at Euro 2020 on a free and the list goes on and on, supplemented by the likes of Wijnaldum and Mendes. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that when the transfer window ended, a real argument could be made that PSG had the best transfer window ever, in the history of football. However, it is not for anything is it said that football teams are not created in the boardrooms, they get in sync on the pitch, as the underachieving galacticos would attest to. PSG are going through something similar.
What a transfer window for PSG 😲 pic.twitter.com/xFuksEacZP
— 433 (@433) August 14, 2021
Lionel Messi’s move from Barcelona to PSG sent shockwaves through the footballing world. It was assumed that Messi would provide that final push that PSG required to get their hands on the Champions League. Added to his obviously otherworldly talents, he brought about a winner’s mentality to the club that had become infamous for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. So far, it couldn’t be further from the truth.
Freekick hits the post ❌
Someone else takes the penalty 😪
Subbed off for a right-back 🙃
Messi at PSG?🤷♂️ pic.twitter.com/H7o7K3RxXw
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) September 19, 2021
Lionel Messi, despite showing flashes of brilliance, has struggled to adapt to his new surroundings. Due to uncertainty about his future and his winning exploits for Argentina at Copa America, he had next to no pre-season with his new teammates. This showed on the pitch has Messi has struggled to judge the tempo and game of his teammates. Yet to trouble the goalscoring charts, he has seen just 190 minutes of action on the pitch, with zero goals and assists. The nadir came recently when Messi trudged off desolately having been subbed off with his side needing a goal, something that was unthinkable at Barcelona. Now recuperating from an injury, the Argentine has been robbed of all momentum and looks like a shadow of himself so far.
THE MISSING LEADER
While Messi has had a stop-start tenure so far, his previous arch-nemesis, Sergio Ramos, has not even had a start. Injury problems have plagued the Spanish CB at the French capital. As PSG look wobbly at the back, some of which is attributed to a lack of a commanding presence at the back, the player signed to provide precisely that has been sitting on the sidelines nursing his wounds.
When will Sergio Ramos make his PSG debut?
Pochettino: "I don't have any details on when he will be available. We hope he will be available soon."
— GOAL (@goal) September 18, 2021
Even though Ramos arrived on a free transfer, the package that brought him, including the signing-on fees and wages, would undoubtedly be high due to his quality, but PSG are yet to get a return on their investment. Ramos’ advancing age poses questions too if he will ever be the player that PSG thought they were getting.
EURO 2020 BEST PLAYER IS 2nd CHOICE
Italy won the Euro 2020 on the back of their commanding presence in the goal, with Gianluigi Donnarumma proving his worth in multiple games, be it match-winning saves or crucial saves in penalty shootouts. It was regarded as a coup when PSG opportunistically swooped in and got him on a free transfer after his contract at Milan expired. Coming in as such a marquee signing, being regarded as the best young GK in the world, he would have expected to be the main man at PSG. However, as has been the theme of the signings at Paris this season, it was not to be.
Incumbent Keylor Navas, faced with stiff competition for his spot not for the first time, raised his level again and has kept his No1 spot in the team. In a startling turn of events, Donnarumma has been forced to watch the majority of the games from the bench, with Pochettino clearly deciding that the Costa Rican Navas is his number one.
PSG goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma is said to be unhappy and Juventus are already looking to make a move, report Corriere della Sera.https://t.co/EjFpEHEUuc
— Get Italian Football News (@_GIFN) September 24, 2021
Grumblings have already started from Donnarumma’s camp that he is unhappy with his role at the club. Reports that suggest he is already looking to move might seem a bit premature, but with his agent being Mino Raiola, it is not beyond the realms of imagination that those reports become stronger and move regarded as a coup ends in a whimper.
SUPPORTING CAST THAT WASN’T TO BE
The extent of PSG’s domination in the transfer market could be seen from the fact that their “supporting cast” signings would be marquees for most teams in the world. Liverpool ace Wijnaldum arrived on another free transfer, accompanied by wunderkind fullback duo Nuno Mendes and Achraf Hakimi. Of all these signings, only Hakimi can be termed as an outright success. Hakimi has been his usual marauding best, getting 3 goals and 2 assists in the league alone in 7 appearances, playing from RB.
— Gini Wijnaldum (@GWijnaldum) September 22, 2021
It’s a different story for Wijnaldum and Mendes though. Wijnaldum was expected to provide zip and penetration to the PSG midfield with his energetic forays into the opposition box. He is yet to score or assist in 6 appearances in the league while being subbed off at the 46’ minute mark in the Champions League. After all the midfield reinforcements in the form of Wijnaldum and Danilo Pereira, incumbent Marco Verratti remains the keystone of the PSG midfield.
Barcelona should thank the heavens that they didn’t end up blowing up their wage bill even more to sign a 30-year-old Georginio Wijnaldum. He’s been a serious disappointment so far at PSG.
— Zach Lowy (@ZachLowy) September 22, 2021
On the defensive end, Nuno Mendes was brought on loan with an option to buy. Although it is still early signs for the vastly talented Portuguese, his start at PSG has been less than ideal. Tasked with defending his flank on his own, as the ideal front three of Mess-Neymar-Mbappe are not known for their defensive effort, the whole PSG team has looked shaky, and Mendes has been no different. In contrast to his more accomplished partner on the right side in Hakimi, Mendes is yet to contribute a goal or assist, mostly engaging in the defensive side of things. He has made just three appearances, with his most notable contribution being him being booked in two of those games. His potential though is hard to ignore and it still looks like PSG will trigger their buy option, but a less than auspicious start has been the theme for PSG’s new signings and Mendes hasn’t been able to change that trend like Hakimi.
Even though the new signings have struggled, there would be nobody pushing panic buttons at this stage of the season. No matter how talented the new signings maybe, an adjustment period was bound to hamper their results. There have been mitigating circumstances for the likes of Messi and Ramos and the hope at PSG will be that they eventually come good. However, a good start is half the journey and if confidence levels drop, PSG’s trailblazing transfer window could be remembered very differently in time to come.