“Greater Paris is in the same region, dressed up in tours where it has never become a gaming tradition.”
Some things sound better in French. Take, for example, the above from a report of Paris Saint-Germain's 2-0 home win over Nantes at Le Parisien midweek. This is definitely best read in the original, ideally in Uncle Monty's sad and sonorous tones with Withnail and I gazing wistfully through the pantry window with a firm, young carrot in one hand and a Neymar figurine with the velvet club mark. in hand. From others.
An idée, a ghost dans the rêves. What the Le Parisien man is saying here, coming in as a cross between Baudelaire and a Fan TV stadium vox pop, is that PSG is in a state of affairs today, although it is fascinating.
This is still a winning machine. The victory on Wednesday left Thomas Tuchel's team five points clear at the top of the table and they are already guaranteed first place in the Champions League group. Mauro Icardi and Edinson Cavani are an unusually real pair of attackers. In Idrissa Gueye and Marco Verratti, they pass, covering the midfield.
But something is still rotten in the state of Denmark. It's been two and a half years since the most extraordinary recruiting blitz in sports history. Neymar arrived in Paris first, bought in early August 2017 for £ 198 million. Kylian Mbappe followed him three weeks later, in a renamed deal, for obvious reasons, as a temporary loan. In the end, Qatar's moving arm spent nearly £ 400 million in a two-man attack that crystallized the idea of Paris Saint-Germain as crude, disturbing, inflationary, but also irresistibly assistable.
Advancing to the present day, the Neymar-Mbappe mini-era seems to be on the brink: trapped between heaven and earth, still performing but fragile as well, and reaching the end of something.
Mbappé scored the opening goal against Nantes, a clumsy and elegantly inventive little movement of the heel executed as he fell backward. At 78 minutes, he left the field and sat sad and betrayed under a red blanket. A little later, Neymar also looked even more broken, devastated, sad. Neymar had just added the second goal, a penalty celebrated with a silent gesture to parts of the crowd that are still booing for trying to force a clearance and not being Cavani.
Neymar (left) is congratulated by Kylian Mbappé after opening the scoring against Nantes at the Parc des Princes on Wednesday. Photo: Franck Fife / AFP via Getty Images
It was a significant moment in other ways. Take this. Wednesday night was also the first time Neymar and Mbappé had scored in the same game since January, 10 months during which they spent just 120 minutes on the pitch with each other. That's an extraordinary total: £ 90 million in salaries since PSG's two-player galactic unit scored in the same game. And in addition, a combination of salary and transfer of £ 570 million on their pair.
Here we have a whole half-billion-goal project based on bringing these two men together on the final stages of the Champions League. In the end, Neymar and Mbappe played just two Champions League knockout games together in two years. The most recent was the victory at Manchester United, which turned into a second leg exit when they broke up. Prior to that came the first-leg defeat at Real Madrid, which saw Neymar miss the chance to regain it in Paris.
This situation would be more obviously comical if Mbappe and Neymar had turned out to be a dysfunctional, mismatched pair. But the truth is more subtle than that. The fact is, they are great together. In 46 Neymar-Mbappé games, PSG have scored 150 goals, including 20 mutual assists. So far, the real high summer period was between September last year and January this year, when they scored together in 10 games and PSG have regularly racked up five or six.
At this point, enter injury, stasis, and agitation. It seems possible that Mbappe will finally go to Madrid next summer. Neymar has been wandering around like a royal prince on a tour of a Victorian sewer unit for at least six months. But now both are in shape. From here, they have five months to make it work, to eliminate all the animus, interests, the industrial sports complex that follows these human talent units out there.
Two things are very clear. First, when he's in shape, Mbappe is the most devastating striker in the world. And on the other hand, although he may be annoying, an absurd figure of the sun king, Neymar is also an amazing football player, with a style that complements Mbappe perfectly when he calls back to the chic. How far can they go now, with another season of the Champions League coming to an end?
Paris Saint-Germain: The years of Qatar can be a horrendous thing in many ways. This is sport as a machine to cover up and wash away the status of an extremely ambitious petro-state. But you can't kill the spirit and PSG is a genuinely captivating team right now, a group of players with a wonderful purity about them in those moments when football becomes just something in a green rectangle, a business of shapes, angles. , talent.
Despite all the inanity and greed of the European club scene, it is worth remembering that the sport will still give us these challenging notes of beauty and size. In this case, and most obviously, an aggressive partnership that really has a touch of paradise.
. (tagsToTranslate) Paris Saint-Germain (t) Neymar (t) European club football (t) Football (t) Sport