Yesterday marked the start of a brand new era for Paris Saint-Germain. The new coach Unai Emery and his backroom staff welcomed back the players for the start of pre-season training at Camp des Loges.
The new gaffer met the likes of Maxwell, Marco Verratti, David Luiz, Kevin Trapp and his inaugural recruit Hatem Ben Arfa, who along with his coach was presented to the media at the Parc des Princes during that afternoon.
Many of the South American contingent have been given an extended break due to their Copa America exploits. Thiago Motta and Salvatore Sirigu will have one as well after Italy reached the last-eight of the European Championships, whereas Blaise Matuidi and Lucas Digne have a semi-final to look forward to with Les Bleus against Germany later this week.
The emphasis throughout the day of course was on Unai Emery. President Nasser Al-Khelaifi presented him to a packed out pressroom at the Parc and the Spaniard came across extremely well – especially thanks to his opening statement, which he spoke in French.
Having led Sevilla to an unprecedented Europe League hat-trick, we have brought in a man with pedigree but also class. You can just feel it from the man.
Upon his introduction Emery said; “For me, to coach Paris Saint-Germain is a unique opportunity. It’s a great challenge. The club has been working very hard and enjoyed great success in recent years. When the club first contacted me, they said I had to do everything possible to build further on the work that had been achieved over the last few seasons. I’m very happy to be here in Paris. I’m also happy to be starting work with the players and the staff as of this Monday. The aim is to continue the work done by Paris Saint-Germain up until this point. I want to make this team into a great team. I will quickly learn French. This is a great challenge, a big project. I come from a club of winners and Paris Saint-Germain is a club of winners too. To coach a team that is aiming to win everything is a great opportunity.”
One of the things that stood out was his emphasis on nurturing young talent at the club. Laurent Blanc last season brought through the likes of Presnel Kimpembe and Christopher Nkunku and Emery wants to bring in another five or so from the academy.
Emery; “The players from the Paris Saint-Germain academy need to have the chance to progress. Four or five players will join the first team. I can’t wait to work with them. We want to work with the whole squad, improve together, and the young players are included in that.”
If Emery was thrilled by his arrival in Paris, it was nothing compared to that of Ben Arfa. The 29-year-old was like a kid in a sweet shop and just could not hide his delight at returning ‘home’ as he eloquently put it.
HBA said; “I would like to thank the Chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi, who wanted to sign me. I am very happy to have signed for Paris Saint-Germain, because it’s a club with big ambitions. And I’m returning home. This is my home! Today I’m a Paris Saint-Germain player and I couldn’t be happier! A year ago, I was unemployed… Today, I play for one of the biggest club’s in the world. I feel great, and I’m enjoying it. But I know the hard work starts now, but I’m very happy. I’m ready and everything is going to be fine.”
The last words should be for our former coach Monsieur Blanc; the club’s most decorated coach and a man who achieved amazing things for PSG. The president paid homage to him at the start of the presser yesterday, which was nice to hear.
Al-Khelaifi stated; “First of all, I would like to say a word about our former coach Laurent Blanc. I have a lot of respect for everything he did for the club over the last three seasons. I thank him and his staff. But I decided a change was needed, to start a new cycle with a new coach. I am very happy to be sitting next to Unai today. For us, and for him, it was an obvious choice. I am convinced he will bring a lot to the club, that the supporters will love him. We have won a lot of trophies in France and I want to keep on winning. Our aim is to go a long way in the Champions League”.