Saturday, 2 July 2011

The hunt for the new Messi

Like a cloud of volcanic ash, Qatari Sports Investment have been looming overhead for some time.

But this week they finally arrived at the PSG, ready to wreak havoc across the world. Or at least in the transfer market. In fact given the money they supposedly have at their disposal, perhaps it would be more appropriate to refer to them as a c-ash cloud. Or maybe not.

Anyway, QSI now own 70 per cent of les Rouges-et-Bleu, and their representative Nasser Al-Khelaïfi has been busy telling anyone who wants to listen that their plan for the club doesn't involve signing Eto'o, Berbatov, or any of the other over-the-hill, over-priced stars that have been linked with a move to the Parc des Princes.

"More than anything we want the new Messi," said Al-Khelifi. "We don't want to sign Lionel Messi, but we want to invest in the big stars of tomorrow from all over the world, including France."

It's a nice line and all, but quite how this plan marries up with QSI's other stated aim, qualification for the Champions League next season, remains to be seen. I guess by big stars of tomorrow, Al-Khelifi means established players on the up like Eden Hazard, rather than those who will be ready for the first team in a few years time.

But if the likes of Hazard do appear, lets hope it doesn't slow the progress of some of the club's home-grown players. In the whirl of speculation about who may or may not be arriving, two signings which have actually happened slipped by under the radar. Striker Jean-Christophe Bahebeck and the brilliantly named attacking midfielder Neeskens Kebano, both members of last year's successful under-19 side, have penned their first professional contracts.

The pair debuted last season, both finding the net in the 2-0 victory over Le Mans in the quarter-finals of the Coupe de France, and went on to feature sporadically for the first team during the run-in. There is said to be more talent where they came from, and though I won't claim to be familiar with the club's youth team, it would be a shame to start looking too far afield for "new Messi's" if there are some waiting to be developed closer to home.


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