International Champions Cup Singapore 2018

Verratti confident PSG can end Champions League wait

Paris St Germain midfielder Marco Verratti keeps control of the ball while being marked by Straits Times journalist Deepanraj Ganesan in a friendly match between the French champions and the media at Geylang Field yesterday.
Paris St Germain midfielder Marco Verratti keeps control of the ball while being marked by Straits Times journalist Deepanraj Ganesan in a friendly match between the French champions and the media at Geylang Field yesterday.ST PHOTO: SYAMIL SAPARI

Despite pumping in almost €1.03 billion (S$1.64 billion) since being taken over by Qatar Sports Investments in 2011, Paris Saint-Germain are still on a quest to secure a maiden Champions League title.

The continuous failure to leave their mark on Europe despite the recruitment of star names like Neymar, Kylian Mbappe, Edinson Cavani and Angel di Maria has seen the manager's seat refreshed several times at the seven-time French champions, whose best results in Europe's elite club competition remain the quarter-finals.

The latest man in the hot seat is former Borussia Dortmund manager Thomas Tuchel. But Maxwell, a left-back who played for PSG from 2012 to 2017 and is now their sports coordinator, feels the club can do better with the new man.

"He (Tuchel) brings with him a new energy and new system of play that will give players a new knowledge of football and we are confident we can reach our goals with him," said the Brazilian yesterday.

"When you play for a club like PSG, every competition is important. It is our obligation to fight every day to win."

Midfielder Marco Verratti is also hoping the club can go all the way this season after he was sent off in the second leg of the last-16 tie against Real Madrid last season. The team went on to lose 2-1 and the tie 5-2 on aggregate.

On the sidelines of a media trialling session of the new Nike PhantomVSN football boot, Verratti, who grimaced when the topic of the Champions League was raised, told The Straits Times: "We will give our maximum this year to go further than we did (previously).

"I am confident because we have a very good team... (But) you can't forget there are other teams who are very good as well. It is a competition where you need to take each game at a time."

So far, PSG have secured the services of legendary Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon while they are reportedly closing in on the signature of Germany and Bayern Munich defender Jerome Boateng.

But Maxwell cautioned against hyping up their chances in the Champions League, saying: "All the big clubs, they spend money and they have big squads but only one team wins it every year. We will try to be as competitive as we can."

For midfielder Christopher Nkunku, 20, playing with the likes of the experienced Buffon is something he relishes and hopes to learn from.

He said: "Players at PSG like Neymar and Cavani all have different qualities and I try to learn every day in a different way to improve my game. So far the feeling (in pre-season) has been good and I hope the team will be able to do well in the coming season."


 • The PhantomVSN boot ($399) will be launched on nike.com on July 30 and in stores on Aug 2.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 27, 2018, with the headline 'Verratti confident PSG can end Champions League wait'. Print Edition | Subscribe