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PSG primed to begin domination at home, and abroad
Published : 06 Aug 2012 14:16:57
After another summer of big spending, season two of the Qatar Sports Investment five-year plan to take Paris Saint-Germain to the summit, in France and abroad, sees the capital club billed as the overwhelming favourites to claim the Ligue 1 crown.
Back in the Champions League following an eight-year hiatus, the Parisians also possess high hopes of success in Europe's top club competition after the acquisitions of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva and Ezequiel Lavezzi.
Carlo Ancelotti took over at the end of December last year with PSG in first place following Antoine Kombouare's dismissal, but the Italian ultimately failed to guide his charges to the title, with Montpellier pipping them at the post.
This time, however, he has had the benefit of a full pre-season in charge.
"The objective is to be competitive and to do well in the Champions League. In the league, we finished second last season. For us to improve, the next step is to therefore reach the top spot," responded the former Juventus, AC Milan and Chelsea boss when asked about his goals for the upcoming campaign.
The arrival of Sweden captain Ibrahimovic from AC Milan gives QSI the genuine superstar that they wanted and provides Paris with a talisman rarely, if ever, seen before at the Parc des Princes.
And the mercurial Swede views his new club as one that could potentially dominate for years to come.
"This is the future and I believe in this, this is the most important. When you look at the team it's really a dream team," he told reporters upon his arrival in the French capital.
"It's the future not only of French football but also in Europe and even the world."
Ibrahimovic, who turns 31 in October, tormented defenders in Serie A and is likely to plunder goals at a similar rate against French defences.
"We're aiming for everything. We're in the Champions League, we have the two cups in France, so of course a club team has to win everything," the striker said.
"We have a top team and we are only missing a winning team."
PSG had the best defensive record in Ligue 1 prior to Ancelotti's mid-season appointment, but they surprisingly struggled at the back from that point onwards.
The responsibility will fall on Brazil captain Thiago Silva, a player who has overcome injury and illness to become one of the game's most assured defenders, to help solidify the back four along with compatriot Alex.
However, with Silva currently captaining his country at the London Olympics, it's unclear when the 27-year-old will make his first-team bow.
As for Lavezzi, he combined with Edinson Cavani and Marek Hamsik to form the "Three Tenors" at Napoli, a fearsome attacking trio that plundered the third-most goals in Serie A.
The stocky Argentine, also 27, adds another attacking option to a burgeoning squad that already includes Nene, Jeremy Menez, Javier Pastore, Kevin Gameiro and Guillaume Hoarau.
Sprinkled in between the marquee signings was midfielder Marco Verratti, a key figure in Italian second-tier club Pescara's promotion-winning side who, at 19, is still raw but has drawn comparisons to Andrea Pirlo.
Sporting director Leonardo, who labelled Ibrahimovic's arrival as "the biggest deal in this club's history" insisted PSG won't add any more players before the transfer deadline.
However, the futures of several members of the first-team squad remain shrouded in doubt.
Gameiro, Diego Lugano and former captain Mamadou Sakho saw their stocks plummet towards the tail-end of last season, while others may start to ask questions should a similar fate befall them.
But, paired with the influx of stars at PSG, the departure of two key players -- Olivier Giroud from defending champions Montpellier and Belgian star Eden Hazard, the league's two-time Player of the Year, from 2011 title-winners Lille -- leaves Ancelotti's side in prime position to end a 19-year wait for a championship.