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PSG owners still looking for 'the new Messi'
Published : 05 Nov 2011 06:16:54Rss feed
Paris Saint-Germain owner Nasser Al-Khelaifi has told AFP about his pride at the club's early-season form but has dismissed reports of a planned transfer splurge in the January transfer window.
Bolstered by over 80 million euros ($111m) of investment in new players over the summer, PSG have made a strong start to the season and currently lead France's Ligue 1 championship by three points after 12 games.
They were upset by Dijon in the French League Cup but are poised to reach the last 32 in the Europa League, having beaten Slovan Bratislava 1-0 at Parc des Princes in their most recent game in the competition on Thursday.
Despite the on-pitch success, the enormous wealth of owners Qatar Sports Investments (QSI) means that the club continue to be linked with some of the game's biggest names.
French sport daily L'Equipe claimed recently that PSG will make a 50-million-euro bid for Lille winger Eden Hazard in January, while Al-Khelaifi confirmed to AFP that they were in "discussions" to sign David Beckham.
However, the QSI president played down speculation that Paris would seek to splash the cash again in the winter transfer window and said they remain committed to producing top-class talent from the club's academy.
"Honestly, today we're very satisfied with the performances of the players that we have," he said. "Unless there's an opportunity, we've not working to bring more in this winter.
"We're still looking for the new (Lionel) Messi. Investment will be made on young talented players but at that age, you can never guarantee that they'll become high-calibre players.
"At the moment, we have (record signing Javier) Pastore and other players who improve the team, who don't just play for themselves.
"Pastore is a new Messi, but there could be others. He could reach that level, just as the others players in the team could reach the top level."
PSG's profile has exploded since the QSI takeover during the summer and Al-Khelaifi revealed that sales of replica shirts had risen by 180 percent compared to the same time last year.
Sales of Pastore's number 27 shirt account for a large part of that success, with the club's fans desperate to associate themselves with a player who has scored seven goals in 16 games since his 42-million-euro move from Palermo.
Attendances at Parc des Princes have also soared, reaching an average of 41,000 this season -- 90 percent of capacity -- which is 50 percent more than last year.
"We're satisfied with the results," said Al-Khelaifi. "We've reached the first stage of our project and everything's going as planned.
"But we're here long-term and it's too early to judge us.
"We can't say if it's a success or not yet but we're delighted by what we've achieved so far, with the fans, the atmosphere in the stadium, the merchandising, the shirt sales.
"We're proud of all of that. We've not made any mistakes, thanks to God, but it could happen. Who doesn't make any?"
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