Paris - After being the star of France's 2018 World Cup triumph, Kylian
Mbappe has been the standout player for Paris Saint-Germain in a Ligue 1
title-winning campaign that has been slightly marred by the manner in
which they limped over the line.
PSG finally wrapped up the title on Sunday second-placed after Lille
failed to beat Toulouse, having not won any of their previous three
games when the opportunity to confirm a sixth French crown in seven
seasons was there.
The Qatari-owned club can still make it a domestic double, with the
French Cup final to come against Rennes next weekend, yet this will not
be remembered as a vintage year.
While Neymar once again went missing due to injury at the crucial
point, Edinson Cavani has struggled with fitness too, and coach Thomas
Tuchel has regularly lashed out at the lack of depth in his squad.
The 5-1 capitulation at Lille a week ago was the worst league result
for PSG since Qatar Sports Investments bought the club in 2011, and the
first time they had let in five in a league game since 2000.
A record-breaking 14-game winning run with which they started the
season now seems like a long time ago, the latest Champions League
failure clouding Tuchel's first campaign in charge.
Mbappe, at least, has been a constant, revelling in his status as a
World Cup winner and hardly ever being rested. He only turned 20 in
December, but has now won three Ligue 1 titles in a row.
Mbappe has 33 goals in 39 games this season, with 27 in the league.
And, frighteningly, his team-mate Daniel Alves told RMC recently that
"he doesn't realise how good he is, he can go much further."
He is also not used to losing, and may have upset some of his
teammates with his assessment of last week's defeat at Lille. "We played
like beginners," he said.
To be fair, they have usually
been exceptional domestically. However, the problem is that as long as
they keep failing in the Champions League, domestic success for a club
backed by a Gulf state will continue to ring hollow.
The title has effectively been in the bag for some time, but their
season has been winding down ever since their exit against Manchester
United in the last 16.
That, combined with being knocked out in the League Cup
quarter-finals, means Tuchel in his first season has actually done worse
than Unai Emery, his unloved predecessor.
However, according to sports daily L'Equipe, Tuchel has agreed to
extend his contract to 2021. Thoughts have already turned to the future,
with new signings needed at the Parc des Princes.
The costly Neymar experiment cannot be said to have succeeded until
he stays fit for the games that matter, and there will always be
speculation about his future.
"We have a contract, we're not even halfway through that contract," Neymar's father pointed out to RMC Sport.
Mbappe is the one man they really cannot afford to lose, but is it time for a clear-out elsewhere?
Some of the excitement of the early part of the decade has gone,
replaced with a staleness. The days of Thiago Silva, Edinson Cavani and
Marco Verratti are maybe ending.
Youri Djorkaeff, a World Cup winner for France and a PSG star in the
1990s, offers a frank assessment, suggesting real change is needed
"If you're not great in every compartment, from the bus driver to the
girls who clean the shirts, you will go nowhere," he told Ligue 1
Podcast, 'Le Beau Jeu'.
"Paris Saint-Germain, after many years without success, have to
rebuild everything, restart from scratch, because the foundations are
not good. You cannot expect to one day win the Champions League without
The Qatar project needs a breath of fresh air, and all eyes will be
on president Nasser al-Khelaifi and sporting director Antero Henrique.
UEFA's Financial Fair Play rules remain a problem, though, with PSG
said to have a hole of around 100 million euros and the need to present a
balanced budget by the end of June. The next few months will be