Why Paris Saint Germain is quietly declining

Paris Saint Germain has been notoriously known as the champion of Ligue 1 ever since 2012. They have managed to win 10 of the 12 league titles between 2012-13 and 2022-23, while not finishing below second since 2011-12. Despite their pomp and circumstance, they have never really shone in the continental competition, which has been their Achilles heel. However, they are starting to show signs that their faltering European run could be on the verge of breaking their domestic dominance.

Given PSG’s ability to splash the cash and bring in the biggest names in world football, they have never really stuck to a system for long enough to show results. With so many factors starting to collide together, it might finally be their undoing and might lead to the revolution of French football.

Failing not adapt to the ‘super clubs’

PSG has tried to emulate Real Madrid and Barcelona among the other ‘super clubs’ in their unique ways. They have adopted many principles in their bid to become the next super club across the globe. From signing superstar managers to poaching the best young prospects to signing their most coveted superstar. The Parisian giants have done it all, and have just one UCL final appearance to show for their efforts.

PSG has tried to bring in young prospects from across the continent to aid their bid for a successful and long-term development, which has not worked out. Across the past half a decade, PSG has brought in the likes of Xavi Simmons, Moussa Diaby, Gonçalo Guedes, Hugo Ekitike, Nuno Mendes, and countless young prospects through their doors. Yet, the club would see them leave on a free transfer or shipped off before they could fulfill their potential.

Hiring managers to the tune of Thomas Tuchel, Carlo Ancelotti, Mauricio Pochettino, and now, Luis Enrique, PSG  has experienced four different shake-ups in less than a decade. While their urge to find the right man for long-term success is admirable, their short-term thinking has led them to part ways with the above four in less than two years.

To add to their managerial conundrum, they could be on the verge of losing their striking identity which romped to the championship over the past decade.

Losing the last of their influential strikers

Every championship title was won in part of the lethal strike force that PSG has been known for across Europe. Having started with Zlatan Ibrahimović in 2012, they have only ever had two strikers make themselves their main man for goals in the league. Edinson Cavani followed Ibrahimović’s four-year lead with two years of his own before handing it to the sensational Kylian Mbappé who has been the guy for them ever since 2018-19. But with his contract expiring at the end of this season, it will raise the question, Who is next?

With the seemingly impending departure of Mbappé at the end of the current season, they do not have a clear name who could step in to fill the Frenchman’s shoes. He has not scored below 28 goals for PSG since 2018-19, for the exception the curtailed 19-20 season. Although the fans will be hopeful of either Hugo Ekitike, Ramos, or Randal Kolo Muani stepping in, they’ll be right to wonder if they have what it takes to lead PSG on from the Mbappé-less era.

Between Ramos, Kolo Muani, and Ekitike, they have scored six goals so far in the league, which seldom matches up to the 10 scored by Mbappé. Alongside their striking woes, they will not be happy to learn the ever-improving crop of Ligue 1 minnows looking to take the battle to PSG.

The ‘farmer’s league’ is set for an uprising?

AS Monaco offered a glimmer of hope to their fellow Ligue 1 clubs when they snatched the title from PSG in 2016-17, when the Parisians were looking to make it six in a row. Their youthful exuberance and tenacity saw them win the league with a staggering 95 points, led by an exciting yet relatively unknown wunderkind, Mbappé. Since then, only Lille has managed to break PSG’s dominance, which saw them win the league by a single point in 2020-21.

Although no one has stopped the PSG rout for Ligue 1’s crown, the division is starting to produce contenders to dethrone Paris atop the French top flight. The latest team to trade blows with 2020 UCL finalists was RC Lens in 2022-23, who similarly lost the title as PSG did to Lille, by a single point. But their efforts bagged them an opportunity amongst Europe’s elite. While their juggling contest has not been all that well for Lens in 2023-24, OGC Nice has stepped up to threaten PSG’s domestic crown as they remain the solitary team claiming the undefeated tag as they sit second with a game in hand on their potential rivals.

It would be a stretch to go as far as to claim they are title contenders alongside PSG and AS Monaco. But Nice, Lens, and Lille are all proof that PSG’s domestic dominance is nearing its end. Whether they can capitalize on it and force them off of their hilltop is something that can only be deciphered as the season continues.

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