Friday, 13 July 2012

Mixed feelings as PSG swoop for Milan duo Silva and Ibrahimovic

Tomorrow is Bastille Day, so Bonne Fête to all my French readers, may you enjoy celebrating the revolution in traditional fashion. Well, maybe not too traditional, Concorde is far too busy these days to accommodate a guillotine.

In Paris the fireworks started a couple of days early with the news that Paris Saint-Germain's shock/remarkable/sensational double swoop for AC Milan defender Thiago Silva and striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic was back on.

PSG have agreed a €65million fee for the pair and, having already done a deal with Silva’s people, are in discussions with Zlatan's agent, Mino Raiola. The current state of said discussions varies depending on which media source you believe, and reports that PSG have offered to buy Bercy for Ibra so he can use it as his own private taekwondo practice arena have yet to be confirmed. Personally I like to think of Raiola as Dr Evil from Austen Powers, complete with little finger at lips: "Pay my client..... ONE TRILLION EUROS".

Anyway, assuming the transfer goes ahead, which is a dangerous assumption where PSG are concerned, I’m in two minds as to what I think.

Firstly I should say that there’s no doubt in my mind that Silva is an astute purchase: experienced, but young enough at 27 to still improve, and he and Mamadou Sakho could form the bedrock of PSG’s defence for years to come, assuming Ancelotti has the sense to pair them together that is.

Zlatan is a different kettle of fish. On a superficial level, I defy anyone not to get a bit excited about their club signing one of the world’s top strikers. If Ibra does join it will be fascinating to see how he fares in Ligue 1, and his presence will certainly boost the profile of the club and football in France as a whole, as well as adding some much-needed Champions League experience to the squad. Plus he is bound to give Menez and Nene (if he stays) some competition in the diva stakes – I hope neither of them ends up on the wrong end of a flying kick.

But nevertheless, I can’t get away from the nagging feeling that parachuting in a 30-year-old at huge expense is wrong. I imagine this is akin to the sensation you get when hiring an high-price hooker*: an initially exciting but, ultimately, unfulfilling experience which leaves you longing for the real thing.

No team should be able to go straight from Luyindula to Ibrahimovic, it’s a massive short circuiting of the natural order of football. It’s also a dramatic departure from what we were promised when QSI took over, i.e. that the club would sign and develop the world’s top young footballing talents. The purchase of Verratti – which I assume is still on the cards – would be a good step in this direction, but increasingly the squad is getting full of quick fixes: Maxwell, Motta, Alex, and now Zlatan.

Reading this back I’m worried I sound a bit like a ungrateful football snob, which couldn’t be further from the truth: I have no problem with QSI lavishing their cash on PSG as long as they have a plan of how they’re going to spend it. Unfortunately the signing of Zlatan smacks of a club grabbing at the nearest available superstar, and if Leonardo and co continue to pursue such a haphazard, short-term, agenda then Les Rouges-et-Bleu will lose any semblance of identity and end up being yet another expensive car-park for football’s biggest names.

*Just to be clear in case Mrs PSGT is reading, I have never and would never hire a hooker, high-class or otherwise. Don't do it kids. 

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