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Paris Saint-Germain boss promises ‘lots of changes’ to create ‘new era’ at club


Even just a few weeks ago, it looked highly unlikely that Kylian Mbappe would stay in the French capital. Images and videos emerged of him having dinner in Madrid, as a move to Real started to look inevitable.

After a tumultuous season in which PSG only won the Ligue 1 title – a trophy that head coach Mauricio Pochettino admitted ‘wasn’t enough’ to meet the club’s ambitions – and crashing again in dramatic fashion in the Champions League, it would have been hard to imagine a bright future for the French side if Mbappe had left for free.

Even with Lionel Messi and Neymar in the PSG ranks, there’s no doubt that Mbappe is the club’s most valuable asset, both on the pitch and economically.

There is a palpable sense of relief around the Parc des Princes that PSG have managed to convince their young superstar to sign a new three-year contract, but Al-Khelaifi insists there is still a lot of work to be done this summer.

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“Of course there are a lot of changes that are going to happen,” the PSG president told CNN’s Amanda Davies in Paris. “We will probably announce it [at the] weekend.”

Those words will sound particularly ominous for Pochettino and PSG sporting director Leonardo as speculation grows over the couple’s future at the Paris club.

When asked if there will be a new manager in charge in the dugout, Al-Khelaifi replied: “We want to create a new era of Paris Saint-Germain; a new project, fresh air. I think it’s really important that everyone gets motivated again.

“The defeat in the Champions League was not easy, for which I take responsibility [for,” added Al-Khelaifi, referring to the quarterfinal defeat by Real Madrid, despite PSG dominating both legs of the tie.
“I’m the president and I’m responsible, but anything can happen and anything will happen in the future. I’m not blaming anyone, whoever will stay or will leave, I’m one of the first one responsible with anything, the results.

“So I’m not blaming anyone and this is really important for me, but in the end, you know, we have choices to do. We have decisions to take.

“We [will] grab a few some of them are coming soon and i think that’s really what we want to achieve basically [is] to be stronger than last season – and that’s the only goal I want, to be bigger than last season.”

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“We are one of the big clubs”

Despite Mbappe’s departure rumors circulating for months, Al-Khelaifi says he always remained ‘really confident’ the 23-year-old would stay in Paris.

But this season may have been more difficult than anyone at the club could have imagined. When PSG announced last summer that they were signing Messi, one of the greatest players of all time, as a free agent following his departure from Barcelona, ​​few would have expected the team behaves as it did.

Even the season’s silver lining, the team’s victory in Ligue 1, was greeted with contempt by fans. After PSG limped to a 1-1 draw at home to Lens to secure a French-record 10th title, large swathes of the Parc des Princes crowd booed their team at half-time , before leaving the stadium 15 minutes from the end of the match. .

Frustrated by the team’s embarrassing surrender to Real Madrid in the Champions League, fans expressed their feelings and the stadium emptied almost entirely within 10 minutes of the full-time whistle. Players even skipped the traditional victory lap after winning the league.

Al-Khelaifi admits there have been ‘a lot of things’ that haven’t gone well this season.

“We won Ligue 1, which I think was very easy, but winning the trophy is never easy,” he said. “[In the] Champions League, honestly I don’t think we did badly, until 65 minutes into the second game against Real, controlling the whole game.

Paris Saint-Germain boss promises ‘lots of changes’ to create ‘new era’ at club

“Here we should win four to zero, but Real won and deserved to win. Congratulations to them. It’s the truth. There are more details in the Champions League, always small details and you have to have luck and you also have to believe in yourself, the players and all the staff.

“We really believe that we are one of the big clubs today, I really believe in that myself, and everyone has to believe in that and work on that. When you wear the Paris Saint-Germain shirt, you’re a big player at a big club and you only win here, that’s the mentality we want to create.

“It’s not easy sometimes, we know that, but that’s what we want to build, the winning spirit and mentality.”

‘There is love’

Much of the talk surrounding Mbappe’s new contract has centered on the eye-watering sums of money given to him; Al-Khelaifi says he met Mbappe and his family many times during the negotiation process but insists they talked about ‘nothing but football’.

By staying at PSG, Mbappe becomes the highest-paid player in world football on a salary of around £1m ($1.25m) a week after pocketing a signing fee of around £100m sterling ($125 million), according to Sky Sports.

But instead, Al-Khelaifi believes Mbappe was only motivated by the sporting project PSG presented him with and the opportunity to continue representing his hometown club at the highest level.

“The only thing they are interested in is just sports and football,” he said. “We have the same goal…basically we want to win and he wants to win. He’s a fighter, he’s a winner.

“Don’t forget, he’s Parisian, he’s a Frenchman. He loves his country. He loves his club. He played for the club for five years, there’s a relationship. There’s love between him, the club, the fans, his country So I think it was really important and maybe people underestimate that.

“They think it’s just a contract and who can offer more, which isn’t [true] at all. I think it’s really amazing. Besides being an incredible player, the best player in the world, he’s also a fantastic person.”

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