Paris Saint-Germain, the last luxury brand in the French capital, is chasing European glory | Paris Saint Germain
On the quays of the Seine in Paris, five minutes from the Louvre, stands the Samaritaine department store. The building was last renovated at a cost of 750 million euros. The interior is paneled, there is a VIP area. The product selection consists of Dior, Gucci, Prada and Louis Vuitton. The shoes cost € 1,000. Champagne bottles can be personalized, perfume bottles can be purchased with six figures. Even during the pandemic, the luxury goods trade continues to grow.
The Samaritan woman attracts people. They walk around and admire the exhibits as they would with the Mona Lisa in the Louvre. People want to see it as the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame. We marvel. The owner, Bernard Arnault – the richest in Europe – has brought together all the noble brands in his fairytale castle.
La Samaritaine also looks like the Paris Saint-Germain football team. This is because the world’s most valuable soccer players are under one roof there. In the goals is Italy’s Gianluigi Donnarumma, who was named player of the tournament after winning the Euro 2020 final. New to the defense, Sergio Ramos, former Real Madrid captain and their talisman for more than a year decade. Another European champion and heart of Italian midfielder Marco Verratti is leading the game.
And the front row is known to all the kids in Tokyo, Delhi, Cape Town, London and Rio. Neymar and Kylian Mbappé are not only the most talented strikers in the world but also the most expensive. Together they cost more than 400 million euros. Now, Lionel Messi also wears the jersey of PSG, six-time world footballer of the year, the former hero of Barcelona.
The three are the most famous soccer players on the planet and together they have more than half a billion followers on social media. The only one missing is Cristiano Ronaldo but that would surely be too much for any coach.
For 10 years, PSG has belonged to the ruling family of Qatar. The owner – the head of state, Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani – has invested more than a billion euros in the club. The country, host of the next World Cup, has been attracting worldwide attention by funding the sport for many years.
In the past nine years, PSG have been champions of France seven times. But in Paris, as in other major places, the national league is no longer the deciding factor. The club, without much tradition or collection of trophies, is recently part of the continental elite. He only employs renowned coaches such as Carlo Ancelotti, Unai Emery, Laurent Blanc, Thomas Tuchel and, now, Mauricio Pochettino.
They think globally of Paris. In the Champions League, of which Manchester City is the visitor on Tuesday, PSG are now favorites. A trophy victory would be the first international title for a French club since 1996. They have been close in recent years: semi-finalists last season and finalists the previous season.
The number of fans around the world is increasing. If these fans get the chance to see the stars up close, there will be a crowd like this for pop stars or Hollywood actors. Replica shirts are selling well. The coronavirus can do nothing to PSG. Everyone is talking about the club. After the Eiffel Tower and Notre-Dame, Paris has a new landmark: an exorbitantly expensive football team.
The club has even become a part of pop culture. Players are popular with rappers. Their videos are reaching nine-digit viewership figures. PSG is also integrated into the fashion industry. Designer Christelle Kocher has created a PSG jersey sold for € 3,000. Beyoncé, Leonardo DiCaprio and Mick Jagger have been spotted in his collection. It suits Paris, metropolis of fashion and extravagance.
PSG are in a Champions League group with Club Brugge. The Belgian club, whose IPO failed this year, achieves an annual turnover of around 135 million euros but is playing in a completely different league. Brugge players can feel like tourists in the Samaritaine in their duel with Neymar, Mbappé and Messi. Still, they held PSG to a 1-1 draw a fortnight ago in the group’s opening game.
PSG’s other group opponents are RB Leipzig and Manchester City, two other investor-run clubs whose development could not have been foreseen a decade ago.
Elite football, as notably shown by PSG, has changed. The clubs are pursuing a new model; identification with them is not rooted locally but the interest is global. When PSG play at City, the world will be watching. There is no greater spectacle.