The Paris Saint-Germain Sporting Director answered questions from fans live on PSG TV this Tuesday morning, via the #AskLeo. The Brazilian answered everything, speaking notably about the team’s form and the news at the capital club.
It’s an important subject. A lot of clubs are in the same situation and have seen injuries to their players. We’ve seen that with Ansu Fati at Barcelona, and Joshua Kimmich at Bayern. And those are young players. It’s the symbol of this year 2020. It’s a year that is taking place in an extraordinary context. In France, we were without competitive football for 4 months, something never seen before in modern football history. We got back to playing with two domestic Cup finals and then the Champions League. We mustn’t forget that a lot of players also headed off with their national sides, and they’ve travelled a lot. The players who managed a proper pre-season aren’t injured, and that’s surely no coincidence.
There’s a context that we can’t avoid, but we must adapt to it. We are envisaging the extensions of the contracts of Di Maria, Neymar, Mbappé, Bernat and Draxler. There are also young players we would like to extend. We have started discussions, and they should intensify in the coming weeks. I think it is the right time, and we’re approaching a crucial period when it comes to the renewals. We have a team with young players, who are already very experienced, and we’ll be a top team over the next 5 years.
The idea is that young players from the Academy are able to play with the first-team squad. Without looking for excuses, life has become more complicated for Academies in France, notably because of judicial constraints that don’t exist elsewhere. We can only offer 3-year contracts to young players, for example. And sometimes, because of that, we are unable to compete with other European clubs that want to have trained-up players, that have been well trained here. The rules need to be harmonised for youngsters at the European level. And of course, we can always improve the performance of the Academy, and the new training centre will allow us to enact the club’s methodology.
THE TRANSFER WINDOW
I would have preferred to have envisaged the transfer window 3 months earlier than what we did in recent weeks. But there was lockdown, and financial aspects that can’t be neglected, and of course the absence of competitive football. This is a very special year and we didn’t even know if we were going to be able to do a transfer window. We needed to find the right opportunities, and often they come along at the end of a transfer window. Prices fall, and players become available, and we’re able to respond more effectively to the needs of the team.
THE RELATIONSHIP WITH THOMAS TUCHEL
The club must always give its backing to its coach, but things also need to be said when it’s necessary. We had a discussion, we spoke internally, but we didn’t like the fact that it became public. These are things that arrive all the time, in all clubs. People can be in agreement or not with what’s happening on the sporting side, and that’s normal, it happens at all clubs. It’s right to have a discussion. It was never a question of replacing Thomas Tuchel, and we need to focus on the objectives and all pull in the same direction. There are a lot of great things to enjoy before Christmas, big matches that necessitate on our side a real investment on a daily basis.
THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE
Despite a difficult start, qualification is of course still possible. The results in the group are a little crazy, with teams winning, then losing. It’s all still very open. The next game at home to Leipzig is of capital importance, and we need to prepare for it in the best way. We would have preferred to have won our first 3 matches, but everything is still to play for.
I’m an optimist and I know we have a great team, in an incredible city, with an incredible stadium. Our Chairman and CEO is very present, he’s very ambitious. The last year has not been easy, but we won the quadruple and reached the final of the Champions League. When we look at the history of the club, we can see that a lot of things have changed and evolved. We have a lot of beautiful things to look forward to in the future.