Paris-St-Germain have finally cracked their Champions League round of 16 hoodoo, but now look set to be thwarted by the pandemic in their pursuit of the holy grail so badly coveted by Qatar Sports Investments.
Upon the takeover in 2011, QSI stated the aim was to win Champions League, and after four straight eliminations at the round of 16 stage, this year PSG eliminated Borussia Dortmund and were looking good.
This season is the most promising PSG have looked, probably ever, to advancing to the final and claiming Europe’s crown.
PSG chief executive and chairman Nasser Al Khelaifi was quoted two days ago in regard to the Champions League...
“If it’s not possible to play in France, we’ll play our matches abroad,”
Such is the level of ambition and the belief the PSG boardroom that this year is their year. Or at least WAS...
But the smart money (and PSG have a lot of it) must be on the complete abandonment of the competition for 2019/20.
What does this mean for PSG’s two talismanic strikers, if anything?
Spanish pressmen and media still get overcome with excitement and glee at the mere mention of the pair. They continue to write longingly and speculate that both will be plying their trade in La Liga next season. The slightest sliver of unsubstantiated gossip is enough to set a thousand Spanish keyboards rattling.
The players of course are not blameless when it comes to lending speculation either. Mbappe has made little secret of his love for Real Madrid and hero-worship of manager Zinedine Zidane, while Neymar had already pushed hard to move back to Barcelona last summer.
But realistically it appears unlikely either will move before the end of next season.
Mbappe by then, will be in a strong negotiating position with only 12 months left to run on his contract. However, recent reports from France strongly suggest the Emir of Qatar is in no mood to let the World Cup winner leave Paris.
Neymar too is a hit with the Gulf state’s most powerful man, and you wonder where the Brazilian’s mind is at following his emotional and tearful reaction to the recent ‘behind closed doors’ defeat of Dortmund. Is his Nou Camp longing still rife?
The acclaim of fans that night locked out of the Parc des Princes may suggest he’s feeling more at home these days in Paris.