Just three weeks ago, Paris Saint-Germain stepped onto the pitch in their first ever Champions League Final – the stage that the French club had spent over a billion euros to arrive on.
Yet little over a month after playing in the showpiece Lisbon event – which they lost 1-0 to Bayern Munich – the project Thomas Tuchel and the French club have been building for the past few seasons is starting to unravel.
The French champions have started the season poorly, with shocking 1-0 defeats to RC Lens and Marseille in their opening two matches of the 2020-21 Ligue 1 season.
Paris Saint-Germain are already in crisis after losing their first two games of the Ligue 1 season
The French giants are struggling with the fall-out of last month’s Champions League final loss
PSG are also set to lose Brazilian winger Neymar for several matches after he was sent off alongside Layvin Kurzawa and Leandro Paredes in a shocking brawl at the end of the Marseille defeat on Sunday night.
Not only this, but coronavirus has worked its way through some of PSG’s stars since the Lisbon final, while star striker Kylian Mbappe has reportedly handed in a transfer request.
Sportsmail goes through all the problems PSG are facing at the start of the current campaign…
PROBLEMS UP FRONT
With 62 goals combined last term, the devastating front-three partnership of Angel Di Maria, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar was a major factor in PSG reaching the Champions League final last month.
PSG could also rely on Mauro Icardi and Eric Maxim Chupo-Moting from the substitutes’ bench in case they needed any more goalscoring power.
But the coronavirus pandemic has depleted PSG’s attacking line-up for the start of the 2020-21 season, with several positive cases among the Ligue 1 giants’ stars.
Key PSG trio Kylian Mbappe, Angel Di Maria and Neymar all had COVID-19 over the break
PSG put out a youthful front three as they were beaten 1-0 by RC Lens on Thursday night
The diagnosis of Di Maria, Mbappe, Neymar and Icardi over the end-of-season break meant PSG had to put out a very raw front-three for their season opener to RC Lens.
Pablo Sarabia, who scored just four league goals last term, started on the right alongside 18-year-old duo Kays Ruiz-Atil and Arnaud Kalimuendo.
The teenage pair failed in their audition in the Lens match as they failed to find the net in the shocking 1-0 defeat to the French minnows.
Neymar is set to miss the next few games for PSG after lashing out against Marseille
While Neymar and Di Maria managed to make a return for the fiery Marseille encounter, their link-up play was tepid in comparison to last month’s antics as PSG were disappointing in front of goal once again despite having 14 attempts on goal and 66 per cent possession.
To add further salt into the wounds, Neymar is set to face a lengthy ban for his red card in the Marseille game, meaning they will be without their dangerous front three for a few more weeks.
Many thought that PSG would invest heavily in the squad after coming so close to Champions League glory in August – but the French giants are facing a transfer crisis as the summer window enters its final few weeks.
According to several reports in France, PSG boss Tuchel and sporting director Leonardo have clashed in recent weeks over transfer targets to improve the squad.
While the Brazilian sporting director backed Tuchel after the Marseille defeat, it is common knowledge that the pair do not quite gel at the French champions.
The mega-rich club have only managed to bring in Alessandro Florenzi in a loan deal this summer, while the temporary spells of Icardi and goalkeeper Sergio Rico have been made permanent.
Thomas Tuchel (right) and Leonardo (left) are at transfer loggerheads at cash-strapped PSG
PSG also face a financial crisis as any significant investment would risk breaching UEFA’s Financial Fair Play (FFP regulations). European football’s governing body initially made harsh sanctions against Manchester City for breaking rules and threw them out of the competition to begin with – the French club cannot risk being thrown out of Europe and Champions League glory is so important to them.
The Ligue1 giants have managed to raise a little bit of money by releasing high-wage earners such as Edinson Cavani and Thiago Silva. But the inability to replace them so far is hurting the French champions on the pitch despite the financial boost.
OLD HABITS REMAIN FOR MBAPPE AND NEYMAR
The transfer worries do not end there for PSG, as star striker Mbappe has been strongly linked with a move away from the French side at the end of the season.
According to The Times, the 21-year-old has informed PSG that he intends to find a new challenge at the end of the 2020-21 campaign, which as put the likes of Real Madrid, Manchester United and Liverpool on high-alert.
PSG could well be tempted to sell the French forward next summer, who will have just one-year left on his contract by the end of the current campaign.
Kylian Mbappe reportedly shocked PSG by saying this season is his last at the Parc des Princes
Mbappe has been crucial for PSG since his arrival in 2017, scoring 51 league goals in just 49 games which has fired the French club to three consecutive Ligue 1 titles.
But PSG’s financial woes mean they cannot risk losing Mbappe on a free transfer in 2022, especially considering they spent £166million to prise him away from Monaco three years ago.
What will be the main concern for PSG is that Mbappe does not believe PSG are the right club for him despite playing in a Champions League final just a few weeks ago.
And while an Mbappe exit has been discussed before, PSG’s worrying start to the campaign could well push the young forward towards the Parc des Princes exit door.
Meanwhile, fellow PSG talisman Neymar is beginning to show the fiery temperament that nearly saw him leave the French giants this time last year.
Neymar is also showing the fiery temper that nearly saw him leave the club last summer
The Brazilian was sent off for slapping Marseille defender Alvaro Gonzalez at the back of the head in the closing moments of the aggressive Ligue 1 encounter on Sunday night.
Neymar has previously been criticised for his lack of professionalism both on and off the pitch, with other sending offs, lavish post-match parties and mysterious disappearances from the PSG squad all slammed by the European press in recent years.
All the criticism came to a head last summer as Neymar went AWOL as he attempted to push through a return to Barcelona. How many more chances will Neymar get in a PSG shirt?
LACK OF LEADERSHIP
The loss of Thiago Silva, who joined Chelsea on a two-year contract earlier this summer, is a particular blow to PSG’s chances from a leadership point of view.
PSG kept four clean sheets in their last six matches of the season with the Brazilian centre-half leading the side – but the French giants have now let in sloppy goals in both of their league matches this season as they search for new leadership at the back.
Presnel Kimpembe (right) is the new PSG captain after Thiago Silva (left) joined Chelsea
Presnel Kimpembe, who partnered Silva in PSG’s road to the Champions League final at centre-back, has taken over the armband at the start of this season – but has failed to instill the same defensive solidity that the veteran Brazilian brought.
With Neymar and Mbappe linked with moves away, PSG need to find the next reliable leader – and fast.
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE HANGOVER?
When Mbappe spoke to the media about his plans for this season, the Frenchman looked back on previous losing Champions League finalists and how they responded to defeat in the biggest football match in Europe.
Liverpool went from runners-up to winners in the space of a year between 2018 and 2019, while Bayern Munich were beaten by Chelsea in the 2012 final but won the following year’s showpiece event against Borussia Dortmund just 12 months later.
Yet the opposite is happening in the Parc des Princes as PSG’s woeful start to the season suggests their players are struggling to get over the disappointment of losing this year’s Champions League final to Bayern.
PSG are struggling to get over the Champions League final loss to Bayern Munich
Marseille boss Andre Villas-Boas made reference to this disappointment in his explosive outburst against PSG following Sunday’s encounter.
The former Chelsea and Tottenham boss said: ‘They had 10 years of domination but they spent more than a billion to achieve it.
‘It gave importance to what they do in France. They want to win the Champions League, but always failed.’