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Slump leaves PSG coach Galtier under intensifying pressure

Paris Saint-Germain coach Christophe Galtier. Photo: Franck Fife/AFP

Paris Saint-Germain coach Christophe Galtier is under increasing pressure going into Saturday’s game away at his former club Nice as the Ligue 1 leaders look to arrest their slump.

PSG are six points clear at the top of the French table but that advantage was in double figures before they suffered back-to-back home defeats either side of the recent international break.

A 2-0 reverse against Rennes was followed by a 1-0 loss to mid-table Lyon last weekend, meaning PSG have suffered eight defeats in 18 matches in 2023.

The Parisians are now just six points clear of both Lens and Marseille at the summit as they chase what would be a French record 11th league title, and a ninth in 12 years under Qatari ownership.

The prospect of PSG failing to win the title still appears slim, but they have a home meeting with Lens coming up after Saturday’s visit to the Cote d’Azur, difficult fixtures in which Galtier can ill afford to slip up.

Widely-read sports daily L’Equipe this week reported that Galtier would be playing for his job in these games, with the club’s football advisor Luis Campos and president Nasser al-Khelaifi prepared to change the coach if the club’s grip on the top of the table were seriously threatened.

“We are wasting our trump cards with each game that goes by, but I am not giving up. I will fight until the end,” said Galtier, who has a two-year contract, last weekend.

“There needs to be a reaction of champions.”

Already out of the Champions League and French Cup, PSG will be wary of a Nice team unbeaten in 14 matches since ex-Paris midfielder Didier Digard took over as coach in January.

Nice are also France’s sole surviving European representative and have a Europa Conference League quarter-final against Swiss club Basel coming up.

“PSG are always a team to fear because they have some of the best players in the world. They have extraordinary individuals,” said Digard.

Lionel Messi can be expected to play for PSG despite a source close to the club this week telling AFP that a departure for the Argentinian at the end of the season was now “much more likely” than him signing a new contract.

But as PSG prepare to put Kylian Mbappe even more at the front and centre of their project going forward, the France superstar hit out at the club on Thursday for using an interview with him in a marketing video to encourage fans to buy season tickets.

“I don’t agree with this published video,” Mbappe wrote on Instagram.

“PSG is a big club and a big family, but it is certainly not Kylian Saint-Germain.”

Player to watch: Kevin Danso

Second-placed Lens have built their success this season on a solid defence and Austria centre-back Danso has been a vital part of that. He has played every minute in the league, marshalling the back line in between Jonathan Gradit and Argentine international Facundo Medina.

Danso, who cost a modest reported sum of five million euros ($5.5m) from German club Augsburg at the start of last season, is bound to become a target in the summer transfer window. 

Perhaps a switch to the Premier League could tempt Danso, who was brought up in England after moving to Milton Keynes as a boy, and spent time in the academies at Reading and Milton Keynes Dons. He also had a spell on loan at Southampton in 2019/20.

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