Moneybags PSG aim to finally step up their game

Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe (centre) training with his new team-mates in preparation for today's Champions League clash with Celtic. He scored on his Ligue 1 debut against Metz following a loan move from Monaco.
Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe (centre) training with his new team-mates in preparation for today's Champions League clash with Celtic. He scored on his Ligue 1 debut against Metz following a loan move from Monaco.PHOTO: REUTERS

PARIS • Paris Saint-Germain kick off their latest bid for Champions League glory at Celtic today bolstered by the big-money signings of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.

The French giants will be hoping that their lavish close-season spending can finally help achieve their Qatari owners' dream of lifting the European Cup.

PSG responded to last season's disappointments of losing the Ligue 1 title to Monaco and their stunning Champions League last-16 defeat by Barcelona with the world-record signing of Neymar from Barca for €222 million (S$358.2 million).

While Qatar's billions produced four consecutive French titles from 2013-2016, that form has yet to translate to European competition.

PSG's last, and only, Champions League semi-final appearance was in 1995, with four straight last-eight exits followed by the harrowing 6-1 second-leg defeat at the Nou Camp earlier this year, having beaten Barca 4-0 in the first game.

But, with the additions of Neymar and Mbappe, hopes are high that Unai Emery's men can put their continental troubles to bed.

"We are more than ready for the Champions League," said defender Thomas Meunier after a 5-1 thrashing of Metz on Friday.

READY FOR A CHANGE

Every footballer plays for the Champions League, and with the team we have this year, we must show the world that we want to go further than in previous years.''

THOMAS MEUNIER, Paris Saint-Germain defender, on how the team are well-equipped to improve on their dismal Champions League record.

"We are a very good group, we can see that on the bench today with all the options we have.

"Every footballer plays for the Champions League, and with the team we have this year, we must show the world that we want to go further than in previous years."

Teenage sensation Mbappe joined from Monaco on a season-long loan, with an option for PSG to buy him for a fee that could reach a staggering €180 million.

"It's too early to say (how far we can go)," said Mbappe, who scored on his debut against Metz.

"We have a lot of confidence, but we know that there's still a lot of work to do. We'll go to Glasgow to win and to start well."

PSG will have their European credentials tested by what promises to be a spine-tingling atmosphere at Parkhead, as Celtic look to cause an upset in Group B after an underwhelming return to the Champions League group stage last season.

Brendan Rodgers' men have gone from strength to strength since the turn of the year and are unbeaten in their last 54 domestic matches.

"What we've learnt from our first game of the Champions League last year is that we're not going to be as passive," said the manager.

"They (PSG) are a world away from where we're at in terms of finances but it's going to be an incredible night."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 12, 2017, with the headline 'Moneybags PSG aim to finally step up their game'. Print Edition | Subscribe