The trophy the French club pines for most painfully slipped from their grasp on Sunday as they were narrowly defeated 1-0 by Bayern Munich, with 16-year-Kingsley Coman’s header in the second half.
Brazilian superstar Neymar and France world-Cup winner Kylian Mbappe both missed promising chances in the first half and the former Barca frontman was overtaken with tears after the final whistle was blown in Lisbon and had to be comforted by the PSG owner Al-Khelafi himself.
But Al-Khelaifi was insistently proud of the PSG players and delivered a rallying cry in the harsh face of defeat.
‘We’re sad. We don’t forget that we’ve done great things this season. In the final, we lost 1-0 but we could have scored two or three goals,’ Al-Khelaifi told RMC Sport.
‘It was very close. I am very proud of my players, we had a great season, a great tournament here. We had everything we needed to win, but that’s football.
‘We will work to win next season. Tonight we believe in it more than before. I promise we’re gonna win the Champions League.’
PSG were magnificent in convincingly completing a clean sweep of domestic honors in France this season and, despite European silverware being the trophy they want the most, Qatar billionaire Al-Khelaifi said the squad still had plenty of achievements yet to be savored.
‘Players, honestly, everybody’s coming out with their heads held high. They’ve created something.
‘We played against the great Bayern, that’s something. They’re one of the best teams in the world. We lost 1-0. That’s football. You have to improve on little things. This is our first final, Bayern’s eleventh.
‘We had a great season, we reached the final, we won four trophies. We’re sad, we’re disappointed, but there’s a positive side.
‘We’ll get back one day, we’ll work for it. It wasn’t easy to reach the final, but we’re going to do everything we can to win this trophy.’
When you’re talking about the owner of one of the most prestigious clubs in the world and one reputed to have extremely deep pockets, not to mention having been credited with the accompanishment of having lured the most expensive player in the history of contemporary football away from Barcelona in a move that stunned the world, it is worthwhile paying attention to what Al-Khelafi says in his persistence regarding upping the ante in his pursuit of ultimate Champions League honors for his PSG side in the immediate future.
It would be most fascinating to know what could possibly be running through the mind of someone like that, to whom money is not a deterrent?
It wasn’t too long before this that he put up a firm front and stat ed that no one forced Neymar to join the club. And yet he has himself been witness to the positive change in the Brazilian superstar’s attitude in recent matches and having evolved overnight since his purported and repeated endeavors to leave the Parisienes to unite with bosom buddy Messi at the Nou Camp met with failure, taking on the role of a leader, hosting dinner parties at his home and building his relationship with the younger protégé Mbappe.
Photos taken show the PSG president comforting Neymar after the latter was overcome withemotion post-match with tears streaming down his face. Khelafi knows only too well that deep in his heart Neymar longs still to be reunited with his former Barca playing mate and partner in crime on and off the pitch because of their magical chemistry alongside each other. Then, too, PSG manager Thomas Tuchel had also expressed that Messi is always welcome at the Parisiene club, although believes the Argentine would eventually not leave Barca, referring to him as ‘Mr Barcelona’.
Could this be a subtle allusion to an intention to engineer yet another astounding move for yet another Barca player, this time none other than the GOAT himself, the Barca talisman and diminutive wizard of football, Lionel Messi. After all, Messi is openly derisive of Barcelona president Bartomeu and has also been reported to quietly voice his disapproval of the appointment of former legend Ronald Koeman as the new boss of the Blaugrana, just as he had with the unexpected, surprising appointment of Quique Setien after the removal of Ernesto Valverde.
With the super affluent mega owners of Europe’s top-flight clubs, one never truly knows. We can only guess at what could possibly be going through their brilliantly ‘warped’ billionaire minds used to masterminding colossal grandiose schemes that mere mortals in the football world are not accustomed to, nor are easily prone to understand.
Don’t be too surprised if moves are initiated pretty soon to extricate Messi from a Barcelona already headed for a massive collapse that would require both time and massive finances to restore, both of which they are desperately short of.
So when PSG billionaire boss Nasser Al-Khelafi insists that his Parisien side will one day soon lift the Champions League trophy, I wouldn’t put that past him and take his pronouncement as pure hogwash or wishful daydreaming.
Again, we should all know better than to say ‘Never’ in football.
Credit: Football Tribe Malaysia