Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) are out of the Champions League for another year, knocked out in the round of 16 by Bayern Munich. It means that their long wait for the trophy that they prize above all others must go on for another year at least.
The club remains the dominant force in French football, not least because they have far greater resources at their disposal than all their rivals. But collecting more domestic silverware will not keep manager Christophe Galtier in his job beyond the end of the season.
The Champions League remains their Holy Grail and the club have already begun to cast around for somebody who can deliver it for them.
Since their takeover by a scion of the Qatari royal family in 2012, PSG have spent over £1 billion on players. That includes the two most expensive players of all-time in the form of Neymar and Kylian Mbappé, whilst their current ranks also include World Cup and Golden Ball winner Lionel Messi, Sergio Ramos, and one of the world’s best goalkeepers Gianluigi Donnarumma.
In that time, they have won eight out of the 10 French league titles available to them and 12 domestic cups.
However, the ultimate prize of the Champions League continues to elude them. Having reached the quarter-finals in their first four seasons under the new owners, they have been knocked-out in the round of 16 in five out of the past seven.
The one exception to this run came when they reached the final in Lisbon. A single goal by Kingsley Coman enabled Bayern to beat them on that occasion.
Less than a sum of their parts
For all the talent they have been able to assemble on the pitch, a common accusation levelled against them is that they are less than the sum of their parts. Rather than a team that works for each other, and is solid in the main areas, it is a collection of highly-skilled individuals who lack a common purpose or sense of cohesion.
They have also been accused over the years of ignoring the best French young talent, instead choosing to recruit the most expensive global superstars, irrespective of whether they fit the needs of the team.
Ironically, it was one player who they had on their books but came back to bite them in the second leg by opening the scoring for Bayern was Cameroon striker Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting.
The manager will pay the price
Somebody who is almost certain to lose his job, if not now at the end of the season, is manager Christophe Galtier because that is what PSG do.
The Frenchman only took charge of the club last summer following the dismissal of Mauricio Pochettino, but he will know better than anybody the price of failure.
Carlo Ancelotti, Laurent Blanc, Unai Emery, and Thomas Tuchel all went before Pochettino under the current ownership. And although they won plenty of domestic silverware between them, that was not enough for them to enjoy any extended tenure in Paris.
There has been talk that Tuchel, out of work since leaving Chelsea – with whom ironically he did win the Champions League – may return. And there have also been links with Zinedine Zidane, who is also available.
However, whoever inherits the PSG hot seat should be under no illusions as to what is required of them.
Major stars might leave
Already there are indications that the current team may break up in the summer.
Mbappé only signed a new contract last year, but he has threatened to leave and force through a transfer to Real Madrid, citing broken promises, among them the failure by the club to sign a central striker last summer.
Both Messi and Ramos are out of contract in the summer, and whilst the former, at least, has been offered a contract extension, he has yet to sign it.
And then there is Neymar, who has been ruled out for the rest of the season with an ankle injury. He is under contract until 2025, but there have been suggestions linking him with a move away from the club.
Almost certainly the club will spend a lot more money in the summer buying expensive replacements for some or all of these, but with no guarantee that they will bring them the success that they crave.
They get to try again next season
The good news for PSG fans is that their team will get another crack next season. With 12 games left of the French league season, they are eight points clear at the top and already odds-on favourites to win the title again.
But unless they change the formula, it could be some time yet before they ever win the Champions League.
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