Lyon, France, 1st February 2022. An Ulhsport Official Ligue 1 Uber Eats matchball prior to kick off in the Uber Eats Ligue 1 match at the Groupama Stadium, Lyon. Picture credit should read: Jonathan Moscrop / Sportimage PUBLICATIONxNOTxINxUK SPI-1496-0104

Let’s explore the world and we find ourselves in Japan. An Asian country making a rise in all sport codes and one of the few countries to host the world’s biggest sports events like the FIFA World Cup, Rugby World Cup, and Olympic Games.

But it was in 2011, where they announced themselves to the entire world when their senior national women’s football team beat the USA 3-1 on penalties to claim first-ever World Cup in front of 48,817 spectators at Commerzbank Arena Stadium, Frankfurt, Germany, and that glory remains one of the celebrated sports moment in the country. They even finished in 3rd position on FIFA women’s national rankings that year and their highest feat ever achieved.

As Japan were on top of things and rolling past other nations, Adele was rolling on top of US Chart with the hit song “Rolling in the Deep”.  But forget Japan and Adele – one of the most historic cities in the world, Paris roared & dominated the headlines as its luxurious Eiffel Tower attracted Qatari Sports Investment (QSI) to buy 70℅ shares of underachieving local club Paris Saint-German.
QSI officially took over as majority owners of PSG with ambitions to revolutionise French football. To build a club that last won the Ligue 1 in 1994 during the glory days of George Weah, Rai to a name a few, back into a powerhouse. Wholesale changes were needed and the new owners were willing to splash the money as much as they can. Now PSG was threatening to do in France what Manchester City have been doing over the last couple of seasons in England – blow everyone out of the water when it comes to the transfer market
The QSI chairman Nasser Al Kheilafi briefed the media with five years of strategic planning with intentions of seeing the club being amongst the powerhouses in Europe. That meant challenging in the Uefa Champions League became a top priority. Secondly, they aimed to be one of the fastest-growing sports brands in the world, attracting top-quality players and putting Ligue 1 into the world spotlight.
The first step of a five-year project was the installation of former Brazil player & 1994 World Cup winner Leonardo as sporting director of the club in order to drive the ship into the right direction.
The arrival of 22-year-old Parlemo youngster Javier Pastore on €43m as the first major signing was a pure indication that the owners meant business considering the fact top European club like Chelsea and Barcelona were chasing his signature.
“If you look at popular collective sports around the world there is not one club… that fits into the middle of an area with roughly 10-12 million inhabitants and has absolute exclusivity on [its] market,” Daniel Comolli, the French ex-Liverpool sports director told BBC Sport.

The attractiveness of Paris as a capital city is what Comolli pointed out as being a great selling point for players joining the club. The French club continued to spend with Jeremy Menez arrived for €8 million from Roma, Blaise Matuidi making a €10million switch from St Etienne, Kevin Gameiro signing for €11 million and Silvestre Sirigu amongst big signings.

During the 2011–12 season, PSG didn’t enjoy the best of start as they crashed out of the Coupe de la Ligue and the Europa League during the first half of the season, and on 29 December 2011 – with club top of the Ligue 1 table – Antoine Kombouaré was sacked by club’s sporting director Leonardo and replaced by Italian Carlo Ancelotti. The experienced Ancelloti arrived the club sitting on top of the league but ultimately finished as runners-up to champions Montpellier. So besides spending much, PSG fell three points short to win the league title but a place in the UEFA Champions League was guaranteed.

The failure of securing a league title saw the club taking another turn of spending big on transfers with the signing of AC Milan duo Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva as well as Napoli striker Ezequiel Lavezzi and Pescara midfielder Marco Verratti for a total of £88m that summer. The signing of Ibrahimovic shocked many football fanatics as the player was on form after scoring 33 times in 40 games for Milan in 2011/12 season.

“PSG have bought the best defender in the world, Thiago Silva. Who doesn’t want to be here? This is the future. Finally, I’m a PSG player. It’s a big step in my career. It’s a dream come true. I don’t know much about the French league but they know who I am!”  – Zlatan Ibrahimovic

The new season came approaching with the excitement of playing European football again – they easily went past the group stages. They met Valencia in the last 16 and narrowly booked a place in the next round with a 3-2 aggregate victory. With Barcelona in line for a place in the last four – both clubs collided in the first leg with the match ending in a 2-2 scoreline.

With so much at stake at Camp Nou in the return leg, Pastore silenced the crowd in what was a goal that would have sent PSG into next stage but Messi, coming from the bench, inspired the Catalans to just about progress and eliminating their opponents in the process. The Parisians managed to secure a League 1 title with runners up, Marseille, finishing 11 points behind. The dominant era began with the club securing over 20 domestic cups including 6 Ligue 1 titles in the last seven years.

Despite the arrival of big-name players like Angel Di Maria, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe to name a few in hefty fees, the club is yet to turn the domestic dominance into European glory as they have failed to go past the quarter-finals. La Remontada (the comeback) match will always be treated as a missed opportunity after a club threw 4-0 first-leg victory against Barcelona to lose 6-1 and crash out 6-5 on aggregate.

The chance to rule the continent might not come now but the future shows much of progress from a club that was ranked outside of the top 50 in terms of revenue generated in 2011 now sitting pretty in the top six. The brand is growing amongst the top in the world and has to applaud the club bosses from taking underachievers into one of the fearless opponents.