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April 17, 2018

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Title won, PSG heads for summer of change

IT may have felt in many respects as though Paris Saint-Germain’s season ended a month ago, but on Sunday it found itself celebrating reclaiming the French title, its second trophy in a fortnight.

While Neymar is still absent recovering from an operation on a fractured foot, Unai Emery’s side took back the Ligue 1 crown in the best possible fashion, demolishing last year’s champion Monaco 7-1.

A near flawless run of domestic form over the last three months comfortably saw off its nearest rivals, and Sunday’s thumping triumph followed a 3-0 win over Monaco in the League Cup final at the end of March.

To its credit, PSG has not wallowed in self-pity since its defeat to Real Madrid in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League in early March, just after the crushing blow of losing Neymar to injury.

After being denied by Monaco last year, there was never any doubt that PSG would reclaim the crown this time.

It has been top since August. Champion for the fifth time in six seasons, Emery’s team is on course to set a new points record. There have been only two defeats, against Strasbourg and Lyon.

Qatar-owned PSG’s budget is about that of Lyon, Monaco and Marseille — its three biggest rivals — combined.

Perspective is therefore necessary.

PSG has now won as many domestic honors in seven years of Qatar ownership as in the previous 41 years of its history, and it can still win this season’s French Cup.

But its financial might — even regardless of the threat of UEFA sanctions for breaches of Financial Fair Play — ensures the playing field is so uneven at home, and the UCL is its holy grail.

A second successive exit in the last 16 means heads will roll at the end of this season in preparation for a new attempt to definitively become part of the European elite.

Emery’s contract is due to expire and the Spaniard will not be kept on. With their credibility on the line, Qatar Sports Investments cannot afford to get it wrong when it comes to naming a successor.

But having been linked with the likes of Antonio Conte, Luis Enrique, even Jose Mourinho, instead it seems that Thomas Tuchel will be the chosen one.


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