Carlo Ancelotti and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paris Saint-Germain
Courtesy of Paris Saint-Germain

WFC: Paris Saint-Germain "project" continues vs. DC

WASHINGTON — Most soccer fans know Paris Saint-Germain for its money. A lot of money. The French club’s enormous wealth comes in the wake of its acquisition by the Qatar Investment Authority, the sovereign wealth fund of the oil-rich Middle Eastern nation.

But if things go according to manager Carlo Ancelotti’s plans, our knowledge we’ll all know PSG for something else: winning.

“PSG is a new club,” Ancelotti told a multinational throng of reporters at the RFK Stadium training grounds on Friday evening after his club arrived here for the final training session of their US summer tour, ahead of Saturday’s international friendly against D.C. United (7:30 pm ET, FOX Soccer).

“The history of this club is very short, because the club was built in 1970,” he continued. “Last year the owner, from Qatar, wanted to invest in the club and we are trying to build a very good team in Europe.

“It’s a fantastic project. I think everyone involved, we have a lot of motivation, a lot of ambition. We want to grow quickly but I think that we are on the right way.”

Long seen as a sleeping giant of Europe, PSG is 11 years younger than the Italian manager. He took over the team in December after stints at powerhouses Juventus, AC Milan and Chelsea — exactly the kind of company Les Parisiens want to keep as their affluent owners eye a rapid climb into the world elite.

Much like recently crowned English Premier League champions Manchester City, PSG have a practically unlimited budget for salaries and transfer fees, especially amid the recessionary slowdown in world soccer.

Over the winter they hunted, but could not capture, David Beckham, Carlos and another Milan favorite, Brazilian striker Pato. However, a long list of world-class domestic and international talents has been scooped up. Manager and former player Antoine Kombouare led the squad to first place over the first half of the Ligue 1 season, but his team’s style was reportedly considered too pedestrian and he was dismissed in favor of Ancelotti.

PSG let the league title slip away in the second half of the season. They did finish second, though, which brought a coveted Champions League berth and a sustained pursuit of a European title is desired this season.

This summer has seen the 42 million euro capture of Thiago Silva, the Brazilian center back widely rated as the best in the world at his position and currently anchoring his country’s charge for a gold medal at the London Olympics. Even more sensationally, PSG hammered out a 20 million euro deal for Thiago’s former AC Milan teammate Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the menacing Swedish striker.

“I think that they are the most important players in Europe, Ibrahimovic as a striker, Thiago Silva as a defender,” said Ancelotti on Friday. “The expectation is to do their best, and I am sure they will find at PSG the atmosphere to do their best.”

Ibrahimovic, the only other member of the PSG camp to speak to the media on Friday, is a established winner seen as the key ingredient in the quest for greatness. His blend of size, skill and intuitive attacking play will be one of the marquee attractions at RFK on Saturday.

“So far, so good,” he said. “Everything is positive, waiting every day for the trainings and just to play football and come in shape physically. We had a good training week, preparation, and it will be a tough game tomorrow. But that is what we like, when the games are tough. Just waiting for the game.” 

An elite player during his own career, Ancelotti has built success at nearly every stop in his managerial career, though he departed Chelsea under a cloud of frustration despite winning both the FA Cup and the EPL in 2010. He insists that he welcomes the great expectations facing PSG as it embarks on a quest for French, European and world domination.

“Pressure, for my job is normal. Nothing special,” he said. “I’d like to stay here because the project is really ambitious.

“The club has a project, the team has a project, technically we want to build a good identity on the pitch, a good image. Everything is involved, every player is involved, every one of us is involved and I think that it will be a good season for us.”

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