Paris Saint-Germain’s Ligue 1 title hopes have been put in the balance after a 1-0 loss against Lille on Saturday.
The expensively assembled PSG side, including Kylian Mbappe and Neymar – bought for a combined €400 million – were unable to find away through the well-organised visiting side, who scored the game’s only goal via Jonathan David.
Now, Lille are three points clear at the top of Ligue 1 with just seven matches to play. Monaco are only one behind PSG and Lyon can go level with them if they overcome Lens on Saturday.
The irony was, though, that Lille’s team were very much made in Paris.
Of the starting XI the Christophe Galtier deployed, three came through PSG’s youth system before departing for want of game time. Mike Maignan made several fine stops in goal, Boubakary Soumare dominated the midfield and Jonathan Ikone set up what may prove to be the most critical Ligue 1 goal of the season.
Meanwhile, Lille still managed to find time to throw Timothy Weah on from the bench during the first half after David picked up an injury.
The four players combined to play a major role in the victory over the club that paid for their education but was unwilling to persist with them sufficiently to reap the rewards.
Signed for a combined total of €16m, it’s easy to see who has got the better end of the deal.
Lille’s PSG purchases
That in itself throws into sharp relief the confused nature of PSG’s approach to youth development. The quality of player brought through their academy is strong, yet the lack of defined pathway into the first team is a massive impediment to them retaining their best players.
It is not only this Lille quartet who have looked elsewhere for regular football: Moussa Diarra, Dan-Axel Zagadou and Christopher Nkunku are just three of the players to move to Bundesliga clubs after failing to receive a proper chance in Paris.
Sporting director Leonardo recently complained about the practises that German clubs have implemented to whisk away their best talent, but PSG often happy to give it away for relative peanuts, as Lille were only too happy to demonstrate.
With belts tightening amid the Covid-19 pandemic and the financial repercussions, it has once again been made clear that PSG need a more nuanced policy than simply buying success.