Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo (Centre) poses for a picture with Aspire Academy students. RIGHT: Zinedine Zidane poses with fans for a picture.
DOHA: Paris Saint-Germain President Nasser Al Khelaifi insisted that rivals are “worried” about the threat posed by his club while insisting that all the Financial Fair Play rules have been followed.
Qatar-owned PSG are six-day winter training camp in doha which ended yesterday with a glamour friendly against Real Madrid and Les Parisians will return today to France to resume their domestic campaign.
The French capital club have emerged as one of the most powerful names in football since being bought out by Qatar Sports Investments in 2011, and are now a genuine threat to the likes of Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich on the European stage.
They have been helped by the signing of a huge sponsorship deal with the Qatar Tourism Authority, which could net the club up to 200m euros ($274m) a year.
That deal raised eyebrows at a time when UEFA are trying to implement their Financial Fair Play rules, but Al Khelaifi says PSG are doing nothing wrong.
“I don’t understand. Are they worried about the competition itself or about the sponsors? Sometimes they are worried by PSG as a club,” he said.
“Maybe that’s the reason. We respect every club, we don’t enter into any other club’s subjects or internal affairs. This is between us and UEFA.
“Of course it’s a real contract, we had a meeting with the financial fair-play committee. We have been very transparent, we have answered every question.
“What I understand is that Qatar invest a lot in sport to promote the country. This is a big part of the investment of Qatar, investing in PSG.
“Because today everybody talks about PSG and Qatar. So I think this is something that gives a huge exposure. It helps tourism and that’s what we explained (in relation to FFP).” Under Al Khelaifi’s presidency, PSG’s outlay on players has been enormous, capped by the 60m-euro ($82.5m) recruitment of Uruguayan striker Edinson Cavani last summer.
The January transfer window is now open, and PSG have been linked with moves for several players this month, including Chelsea star Juan Mata, Juventus and France midfielder Paul Pogba and Yohan Cabaye of Newcastle United.
However, Al Khelaifi played down suggestions that the club will add to coach Laurent Blanc’s squad this month.
“Today I don’t think we need to recruit anyone. We have a strong team, very well organised. But you never know. The mercato (transfer window) is lasting one month, you can have injuries, lots of things can happen,” he said.
“Of course the coach wants to buy players. If I was a coach I would like to buy everybody. He’s very ambitious, he wants the team to be stronger. We’ll see what will happen.
“It’s a long-term project. We know what we want, our objectives. It’s not just buying players. We need to build the new history of the club. The club has won the title three times and we need more trophies.”
PSG have a Champions League last-16 tie with Bayer Leverkusen to look forward to and are also on course to retain the Ligue 1 title, sitting three points clear of Monaco at the top of the table halfway through the season.
When Blanc was appointed in the summer to replace Real Madrid-bound Carlo Ancelotti, few thought he would remain at the Parc des Princes for the long term, but Al-Khelaifi said he is delighted with Blanc.
“We started something with Laurent Blanc and we’re so satisfied with his job. I’m satisfied with the choice we made with him,” said the 40-year-old.