, September 10, 2021

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Donnarumma, Ramos and Hakimi signings prove PSG’s commitment to rebuild for the future

  •   3 min reads
PSG lineup
Donnarumma is joining PSG on the back of Euro 2020. Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA.

The summer transfer window of 2017 was a landmark one for Paris Saint-Germain. While the Qatari-owned French club had made an impression through their signing of players like Edinson Cavani and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, it was the arrival of Kylian Mbappe and Neymar within just a few weeks of each other that truly announced them as a soccer superpower.

Mbappe and Neymar, as a duo, were a €402m investment. The money splurged by PSG in 2017 warped the soccer transfer market for years to come and set a new precedent for what selling clubs could demand for their best players - see the €160m Liverpool collected from Barcelona for Philippe Coutinho just six months later.

However, PSG’s team remained largely the same for four straight seasons. What started as an exciting, free-flowing outfit with the firepower to blow away any opponent grew stagnant, as demonstrated by their failure to make it past the semi-finals of last season’s Champions League having made the final the season before.

PSG’s activity this summer hints at a much-needed rebuild, though. Achraf Hakimi, Sergio Ramos and Georginio Wijnaldum have already officially joined the French giants while Gianluigi Donnarumma is expected to be unveiled at the Parc des Prince at some point in the coming days. These are notable additions.

The need for a new right back was clear in the performances PSG produced last season. Alessandro Florenzi, signed on loan from Roma for the 2020/21 season, was only ever a short-term solution. His return to his parent club prompted a move for a new player in that position.

Hakimi will give PSG, a team weighted towards the left wing in recent seasons, a different dimension down the right side. The Moroccan has proven himself at Borussia Dortmund and Inter, helping the latter to the Serie A title last season, and is ready to take the next step in his career at the Parc des Princes.

Thiago Silva’s absence was felt by PSG last season. This is a void Sergio Ramos, signed as a free agent after his exit from Real Madrid, will fill. The 35-year-old still has plenty to offer at the top level and will give PSG the sort of defensive presence they have lacked since Silva left the French capital for Chelsea last summer.

The signing of a new goalkeeper might not have been an obvious priority given that PSG already have Keylor Navas on their books, but the French club were wise not to miss the opportunity to sign a shot-stopper of Donnarumma’s quality. The Italian, already one of the best in his position at just 22, has the potential to be PSG number one for the next decade or longer.

Georginio Wijnaldum was another opportunistic signing, but a shrewd one nonetheless. The Dutchman had appeared set for Barcelona after running down his Liverpool contract, but Mauricio Pochettino saw the 30-year-old as a way to inject some dynamism and energy into his midfield, which was somewhat lightweight last season.

According to several reports, PSG’s rebuild might not be finished there. The French giants are believed to be leading the pursuit of Paul Pogba, who is now into the final year of his contract at Manchester United. Pogba is apparently open to the idea of a return to his homeland and United could be tempted into selling to ensure the midfielder doesn’t leave for free next summer.

Pogba’s arrival would take PSG’s rebuild to another level. This summer has already been significant for the Parc des Prince team, but this signing would make it as important a summer as the one that saw Mbappe and Neymar captured. A team led by this pair, supported by the likes of Donnarumma, Ramos, Hakimi, Wijnaldum and Pogba, could be unstoppable.

Money gives PSG an advantage over their competition, but that advantage hasn’t always been evident in the performances they have produced on the pitch. They should have made their Champions League breakthrough by now. They certainly shouldn’t have been beaten to the Ligue 1 title by Lille last season.

Pochettino must straighten out the mess he inherited and the new signings being delivered to him this summer will make this process a lot easier. PSG need more than just big names to win the titles they desire, but with the right players they stand a better chance of building the team their Qatari owners always envisaged.

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