Paris Saint-Germain have emerged as one of the continent’s most progressive clubs since the arrival of the Qatar Investment Authority who purchased the club in the summer of 2011, and are now regarded as bigger spenders than both Manchester City and Chelsea.
Since the Qatari consortium bought PSG for $130 million, they have invested a further $340 million in the French capital’s premier club and, with that investment, come objectives to be achieved.
Some objectives can be achieved on the pitch – it’s clear there is an immense ambition and resolute intent to make PSG one of Europe’s superpowers alongside the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United and Bayern Munch.
Many would have scoffed at the suggestion in disbelief little more than a couple of years ago that the best players in the world would grace the pitch at the Parc des Princes.
However, with the arrival of former Internazionale, Barcelona, AC Milan, Ajax, and Juventus striker Zlatan Imbrahimovich, suddenly the doubts about the feasibility of the PSG project’s aims seem instantly possible. With his arrival there was a message broadcast to the world – Paris is powerful.
They had already started bringing in world-class talent prior to Ibrahimovich’s $180 million contract and transfer combined value and, importantly, the acquisition from AC Milan of his ‘sporting and economic rights’.
Along with the Swede, they bought Ezequiel Lavezzi, Thiago Silva, Gregory van der Wiel, Marco Verratti, Lucas Moura, and none other than one David Beckham. The combined expense speculated was £140 million in 2012 alone. Beckham was brought in on a free transfer from LA Galaxy where his contract had expired.
Beckham’s transfer is, to my mind, the most transparent public relations exercise executed in football in many many years, possibly ever. Beckham is 37 years of age and, despite his vast experience and exceptional quality, he is, let’s face it, over the hill, by many many miles.
He could have retired or continued his own marketing campaign in the USA where he succeed admirably in expanding his appeal from Europe and Asia, where he is nothing short of a demi-God to football fans, across the pond to North America.
Instead, PSG acquired his services – not as a footballer that provides them with any ammunition on the pitch like Ibrahimovich but as icon, an image, an ambassador, and a poster boy - the French football revolution had it’s hero. They could have just announced they had agreed personal terms with Beckham quite discretely but that would have been counter-productive to their aims.
PSG announced to the world on the January transfer window’s deadline day (there was actually no practical reason for that, given he was a free transfer) that they had brought modern football’s most famous man to Paris where he would be donating his earnings to charity.
Whilst that is admirable, Beckham really did his charity work for PSG who couldn’t be more grateful to have his name an image on their books. Their Qatari owners’ investment comes with needs and requirements and that is clearly the need to make PSG a globalized corporate franchise of football.
Their mass marketing campaign has begun and we can expect the likes of Wayne Rooney, Jose Mourinho, Cristiano Ronaldo, and who knows, maybe even one day Lionel Messi to be linked with a move to Paris. There is a new superpower in town and the world had better watch out. Or at least watch.
image: © psgmag