Understandably the FIFA World Cup has cast a huge shadow over domestic club football in the past six weeks but that can now all be put to bed after the tournament concluded last Sunday with Germany becoming champions of the world. Paris Saint-Germain’s return to pre-season like all clubs has been low-key with many of the senior players performing their duties in Brazil.
Well it is time to get back to business and focus on matters in hand with the domestic campaign just under a month away. PSG have racked up two victories in pre-season during the tour of Austria with the final game against Leipzig later today. Interestingly, Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been named in the group despite only linking up with the squad today. He has been doing sessions on his own with a physio in his native Sweden but in terms of match fitness, he has hardly kicked a ball. I would be amazed if he were to participate but having his presence back in the group is only going to galvanise those that are already there and enhance the realisation that the season is etching ever closer.
The group will return to France for a match with OGC Nice to mark their 110th anniversary before the air miles are racked up again for a trip to Asia which will culminate with the Trophee des Champions Final with Coupe de France winners Guingamp in Beijing. Then a week later, the defence of the title kicks off in Reims before a quick detour to Naples to face Serie A’s Napoli.
The World Cup contingent will link up with the squad in a couple of weeks. Laurent Blanc will be under no illusions at the lack of time he has to prepare his squad in full ahead of the new season but it is one that many clubs across Europe face. We have the squad capable of overcoming this and hopefully the addition of one or two more faces will aid that.
One of those faces could be Angel di Maria. Linked with the club for a while now, reports in Spain claim a move to the Parc will materialise if Real Madrid secure the signing of James Rodriguez from Monaco. That would be a coup and half with the European champions weakening our rivals and allowing ourselves to acquire a world class talent – arguably Los Blancos’ best player last season. As yet, nothing concrete has come from these reports but there is no smoke without fire.
In terms of departures, Christophe Jallet looks set for a move to Lyon for around €3m which could pave the way for Serge Aurier’s arrival from Toulouse. As far as big name departures go, nothing looks substantial at the moment. By this time I felt at least one may have been on their way but the squad still remains largely intact despite the loss of Alex, Jeremy Menez and Kingsley Coman. But, if Di Maria is to arrive – and it looks likely judging by reports in Spain – someone is going to have to leave. Ezequiel Lavezzi has been incessantly linked with a move back to Italy this week and you sense something may develop there. Then there is Javier Pastore whose agent has again come out to say the player will not be leaving the club. Either way, there will be repercussions from a big name arrival in an attacking sense as the club abides to the FFP penalties.
It is going to be a busy few weeks for the club both on and off the pitch. But anyway, having the big man back in the fold is great isn’t it? All hail King Zlatan!