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The rise of Paris SG among the continental elite

On the banks 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 wood-paneled, there is a VIP area. The assortment consists of Dior, Gucci, Prada and Louis Vuitton. Shoes cost 1,000 euros.

Champagne bottles can be personalized, perfume bottles displayed under glass can be bought for six figures. The luxury goods business continues to grow, even in the pandemic.

The Samaritaine attracts people. People stroll through and admire the exhibits like the Mona Lisa in the Louvre. People want to see it like the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame. One marvels. The owner Bernard Arnault, the richest European, has gathered all the noble brands in his fairy-tale castle.

The Samaritaine resembles the soccer team of Paris Saint-Germain.

That’s because the world’s most valuable football players are under one roof there.

In goal is the Italian Gianluigi Donnarumma, who was named player of the tournament after winning the 2020 European Championship finals.

New to the defence is Sergio Ramos, Real Madrid’s captain and identification figure for more than a decade.

European champion Marco Verratti, the heart of the Italian midfield, directs the game.

And the attacking department is formed by players known by every kid in Tokyo, Delhi, Cape Town, London and Rio de Janeiro.

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 in transfer fees. Now Lionel Messi is also wearing the PSG jersey, the six-time world football player of the year, the former icon of FC Barcelona.

The three are the most famous football 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 be too much for any coach to manage.

For ten years, PSG has belonged to the ruling family from Qatar. The owner, 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 financing sports for many years, attracting worldwide attention this way.

In the last nine years, Paris Saint Germain has been French champion seven times. But in Paris, as in other major countries, the national league is no longer the decisive factor.

Great tradition

The club, without a great tradition or trophy collection, has recently become one of the continental elite. It employs only renowned coaches such as Carlo Ancelotti, Unai Emery, Laurent Blanc, Thomas Tuchel and now, Mauricio Pochettino.

They think globally in Paris. In the Champions League, whose season began last week, PSG is now the favourites.

A win would be the first international title for a French club since 1996. It has already been close in recent years. Last season, PSG reached the semifinals, and a year earlier they contested the final.

The number of fans around the globe is growing. If they have the chance to see the stars up close, there is a crowd like that of pop stars or Hollywood actors. The jerseys sell well.

The COVID-19 pandemic can’t do anything to PSG. The club is on everyone’s lips. After the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame, Paris has a new landmark: an exorbitantly expensive football team.

The club is even part of pop culture. Its players are popular with rappers. Their videos reach nine-digit viewing figures.

PSG is also integrated into the fashion industry. Designer Christelle Kocher created a PSG shirt that cost 3,000 euros. Beyoncé, Leonardo di Caprio and Mick Jagger have been seen in her collection. It’s fitting for Paris, the metropolis of fashion and extravagance.

In the group stages of the Champions League, Paris Saint-Germain faced Club Brugge.

The club, whose IPO failed this year, has a turnover of around 135 million euros a year, but still plays in a completely different league.

The players of the Belgian champions must have felt like tourists in the Samaritaine in their duel with Neymar, Mbappé and Messi.

Paris’ group opponents are also RB Leipzig and Manchester City, two other clubs managed by investors whose development could not have been foreseen a good ten years ago.

Top football, as PSG in particular shows, has changed. The clubs are pursuing a new model; identification with them is not rooted locally, but interest is global.

When PSG plays City, the world will be watching. There is no greater spectacle.

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