The storm unleashed by the creation of the European Super League has brought to light the finances of the most important clubs in Europe and has called into question the economic model of football. This Wednesday, two of the most powerful teams on the continent will face each other in the semifinals of the Champions League, of which they carry out stratospheric signings of dizzying numbers. PSG and Manchester City have been shaking up the transfer markets for a decade trying to achieve the long-awaited Champions League.
The two teams are the maximum exponents of what Javier Tebas, president of LaLiga, considers “state clubs”. Nasser Al-Khelaifi directs with an iron fist and an infinite portfolio the project of the royal family of Qatar in Paris Saint Germain. Since his arrival in 2011, he has paid out 1,320 million to touch the Champions League for the first time last season. For its part, Manchester City has been owned since 2008 by the Abu Dhabi royal family, one of the richest on the planet with a net worth of more than 300,000 million euros. Mansour bin Zayed, brother of the current emir, is the one who manages the club to which he has injected more than 2,000 million for signings. No one has spent more on additions than the citizens since the landing of the petrodollars in Manchester.
However, there are certain demarcations in which these sheiks have their sights set, releasing hundreds of millions of euros to reinforce certain lines. PSG is concentrating all its efforts on getting the best forward on the planet at any price. The French are the team that has spent the most in the last 10 years in search of decisive players from the center of the field upwards, with 727 million so far, 55% of what they have invested in transfers. Neymar (222 million), Mbappé (145), Icardi (50) and Di María (63) now command the team in search of their second consecutive Champions League final. But before them, PSG already gathered a stellar lead by joining Lavezzi (30), Ibrahimovic (21), Cavani (65) and Lucas Moura (40). No one values the power of a good front as much as Al-Khelaifi.
At Manchester City, on the other hand, they are convinced that the only way to compete in Europe is with a solid defense, especially since Guardiola’s arrival on the bench. The Catalan coach has not been able to fully form a guarantee behind in his five years in England and every summer he goes to the market in search of hitting the key at once. In the last 10 years, they have disbursed 668 million in defenses, allocating 40% of their investments in transfers. Rubén Dias (68 million) and Laporte (65) seem to have finally established themselves as the starting central pair after several disappointments such as Stones (65), Otamendi (44) or Mangala (45). The right-back has also been an obsession for City, who have spent nearly $ 150 million in recent years between Walker, Cancelo and Danilo.
The center of the field is the line that the two megaprojects of the Arab sheiks have allocated the least investment. City has only dedicated 26% of its investment in transfers for midfielders (456 million), while PSG barely reaches 20% (292). It is strange especially in the case of Manchester, who with Guardiola have played several games without a pure center forward and with a multitude of players inside such as De Bruyne, Foden or Gundogan. The Spanish coach bases his game in the center of the field, his hallmark, but he has managed to empower the team with the base inherited from Pellegrini. Only Gundogan, Guardiola’s first signing when he arrived in Manchester, has established himself as a fundamental player while Rodri has yet to fight each title.
At PSG it is not so far fetched. The Parisians have taken to the field on many occasions with the four forwards and a double pivot with Marquinhos, whose natural position is that of central. Pochettino has tried to turn the scheme around to play 4-3-3, but the weight of the team remains on the shoulders of the forwards without a doubt.
This Wednesday in Paris the first round will take place between the most valuable forward and the most expensive defense in Europe. The success of the former or the strength of the latter will be the keys to knowing which of the two sheikhs will have the Champions League in sight, the tournament that keeps these great billionaires awake. Only one will be able to reach the final while the other will have to keep waiting to reap the rewards of hundreds of millions invested in pursuit of glory.