Paris Saint-Germain are no strangers to transfer market symbolism. Their world record £200m signing of Neymar in the summer of 2017 was a move that shook up European football, proving that the Qatar-owned French club could lure the game’s best players from the game’s biggest clubs.
Four years later, PSG have another opportunity to attract a generational superstar. Two, in fact. Lionel Messi’s future has been the subject of much speculation in recent times with the Argentine’s Barcelona contract set to expire this summer. On top of this, Cristiano Ronaldo is at something of a crossroads after three years at Juventus.
PSG’s interest in Messi is already established. The French club have barely managed to contain their excitement at the thought of signing the 33-year-old with Angel di Maria expressing his hope that Messi will join him in Paris. “There are many possibilities. We have to be calm and things will develop,” said the midfielder.
While speculation hasn’t been quite as intense around Ronaldo, PSG is widely seen as one of the Portuguese forward’s possible escape routes from Juventus. The 36-year-old has already won titles in England, Italy and Spain and a move to France could appeal as he attempts his personal mission to conquer all of European football.
Conventional wisdom suggests PSG would have to pick between the two players, but what if they were to sign both this summer? There could be no bigger statement of intent even if Messi and Ronaldo are now in the twilight of their respective careers. It would be the ultimate footballing experiment and a crossover event to challenge anything produced by Marvel.
Financially, PSG’s considerable resources would be stretched, but there is no other club that could bring together arguably the two greatest players of all-time to play in the same team. Some space on the balance sheet might have to be cleared through the sale of Kylian Mbappe or Neymar, but this sort of opportunity won’t present itself again.
As a club, PSG are more commercially-minded than most. They have led the way in blurring the lines between football and culture through their link-up with Air Jordan. The landmark signing of Neymar was as much about what the Brazilian could offer the club off the pitch as on it. Imagine what Messi and Ronaldo could do for ‘Project PSG.’
Their games would become must-watch events. Shirts would fly off the racks. New fans would be drawn to the French game. The impact of Messi and Ronaldo’s move to PSG would be felt long after they leave, giving the club the sort of stature and standing that not even a Champions League title would deliver.
This is before we even get to the most compelling aspect - how Messi and Ronaldo would play together as a pair. They would have got in each other’s way a few years ago, but have adapted their playing styles and game as they have aged and. It’s entirely feasible that they would dovetail nicely, with Messi a deep-lying creator and Ronaldo the penalty box poacher.
Of course, it wouldn’t be the most forward-thinking of moves by PSG, especially if Messi and Ronaldo’s arrival resulted in Mbappe’s departure. The French forward has the makings of a future Ballon d’Or winner, a talent to define the next era of European football. Losing Mbappe would be an even greater price for PSG to pay that anything written into a chequebook.
And yet the prospect of pairing Messi and Ronaldo together at the Parc des Princes might prove irresistible. PSG aren’t the most universally popular club in the game, but they could do football fans everywhere a favour by paying whatever it takes to forge the most fearsome strike force ever seen.