Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ezequiel Lavezzi, Thiago Silva, Javier Pastore, Alex, Maxwell, Thiago Motta, Diego Lugano, Jeremy Menez and Mohammed Sissoko. This is a list of merely a few signings that Paris Saint-Germain have made in the last year or so. The money they have spent has hit new heights with the latest £50million raid on Italian giants Milan (something which also completed the car boot sale that AC have been holding). This takes PSG into the financial elite and puts them alongside Chelsea, Manchester City and Malaga as newcomers to this nickname along with Manchester United, Real Madrid and Barcelona who are all veterans in that arena.
It is the newcomers to this monetary power who warrants this discussion. The likes of United, Real and Barcelona have enjoyed success over generations and do not face the same problems that the likes of PSG and City will, and Chelsea have done. This problem is the blending and tinkering with a squad year after year to ensure the kind of success mentioned above. Teams who are new to financial muscle have yet to adapt to their new surroundings and seem at the moment at least to believe that once a successful team is too old they will just simply buy an entirely new side to replace them. Sadly this will not work.
Whilst this debate began with PSG it will be continued with Chelsea as they are the furthest club down the timeline of this case study. It was in 2004-2006 that Chelsea enjoyed the spoils of the premier league and were at their pomp under Abramovich’s ownership, granted last year was a fruitful season and they have won the league since 2006, but what needs to be discussed here is the kind of dominant manner in which Manchester City and Manchester United bossed the premier league last year. Chelsea have looked frail since the departure of Mourinho and eight years down the line it seems they aren’t in a much better position. Their instant success followed by managerial problems and players being shipped in and out has resulted in an elongated period of minor success. Nevertheless unless I am wrong I would imagine that when a big financial hitter buys a top club and pumps in millions of pounds it is total dominance that they are after, not a couple of league trophies and then mixed fortunes for the next eight years.
There are two key reasons this has happened to Chelsea and they are in an ironic way a result of each other. There has been no thought for replacing the key stars who featured in the success of 2004-2006, namely Terry, Lampard, Drogba. I am talking here about bringing in young players and trusting them to do a good job at the highest level, whilst learning from more experienced players around them, (see Oxlade-Chamberlain, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling to name a few). The second reason is the managers’ fear of experimenting due to the probability that any mistake will result in them in the ever growing UK unemployment line. The simple cure for these issues is to bring in a long-term manager and allow them time to develop a mixed squad full of youth, experience and quality. Whilst this manager is in charge allow them to buy big when money is first available at the club, but from a certain point provide the manager with a budget. This will result in players who are underperforming being sold, and in turn a gradual evolution of the team will occur. Once this evolution is in full flight teams will no longer face the issue of blending new players together as instead of having 6 players leaving and 6 players joining each transfer window this number is reduced to 1 or 2 players having to adapt to the squad already in place.
Manchester City and PSG are already ahead of Chelsea in these stakes, the employment and apparent trust in the abilities of messrs Mancini and Ancelotti will do a lot to steady the ship and get a good ethos at each club. The real test for these teams however is the gradual development of their squads to ensure prolonged dominance instead of a victorious team once a decade. Manchester City had one of the best academies around a year or two ago it would be nice to see an academy system used alongside financial might to produce a really great team. The time for spending big on a lot of players every summer is over for PSG and City from now on they should try and make minimal changes every year to provide a transition between old and new. Chelsea have wasted almost 10 years in my opinion and they need to sort it out fast or else the next generation could soon slip through their fingers.