It’s rare for us to cover stories that don’t involve Premier League clubs, but there’s been so much interest in Paris Saint-Germain and the problems the Ligue 1 club are facing internally that the latest article from Le Parisien was one we couldn’t avoid covering.
Thumping Metz 5-0 over the weekend to bounce back from their Champions League elimination at the hands of a ruthless Real Madrid, things looked a bit rosier in the French capital from the outside.
However, the French newspaper explain on Wednesday the dressing room is anything but united, with three distinct groups dividing the squad, each with various levels of influence.
Let’s start with the obvious one: the French core, one that includes rising starlet Kylian Mbappé, starting goalkeeper Alphone Aréola and new arrival Lassana Diarra.
Yet, despite the status of those three players, they aren’t the ones at the top of the pecking order, with Le Parisien stating it revolves around Adrien Rabiot and Presnel Kimpembe, who are two anomalies in this squad, having risen through the ranks of the club’s academy instead of being bought for large amounts of money.
The duo, often starters, are said to be sometimes ‘annoyed’ by the lack of ‘club culture’ shown by the foreign stars at the club, but have managed to attract Julian Draxler and Thomas Meunier into their group.
Then, there’s the big one: the Brazilians.
Le Parisien explain that while that core has always been there since the arrival of Thiago Silva and Maxwell, the almost godlike presence of Zlatan Ibrahimovic kept everything together.
Now he’s gone, more distinct ‘borders’ have formed through personal relationships and language barriers, increased by the summer arrivals of Dani Alves and Neymar.
With such influential members of the squad at its core, the Brazilians pretty much dictate how the team is run, pressuring various aspects such as the first-team selection and the dates for holidays.
Marquinhos is the only one said to be fighting against his compatriots, trying as much as possible to mingle with the rest of the team, especially the young French core.
As for Kevin Trapp, who is included there, he has only been accepted since he started dating Brazilian model Isabel Goulart.
The last group is that of the Spanish speakers, ‘living according to an Argentinian timetable’, often meeting up around a cup of maté.
Welcoming Yuri Berchiche into the group this summer, as well as being those most in contact with Edinson Cavani (the lone wolf of the team), the likes of Javier Pastore, Angel Di Maria and their protégé, Giovani Lo Celso, are the centrepieces of this group.
As for Marco Verratti, he’s a bit stuck in the middle since his best friends left (Ibrahimovic, Salvatore Sirigu, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Blaise Matuidi), but he gets on well enough with everyone to not really need a clique.
Oh, and Thiago Motta, the eldest, is so respected, ‘he was the only one Zlatan Ibrahimovic was scared of’.
The problem is, even if team activities have taken place, like a meal organised by Dani Alves or Neymar’s birthday, they are too few and far between to actually create a group cohesion that can turn a good team into a great one.
As a great man once said: “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”