PSG's 10 biggest transfer sale mistakes

Stuart Telford
Stuart Telford
  • 3 Oct 2022 21:15 BST
  • 8 min read
Zlatan Ibrahimovic in action for PSG.
© ProShots

From Kingsley Coman to Christopher Nkunku, some of French football's brightest prospects have passed through the doors at PSG

Paris Saint-Germain have also boasted some of the best players in world football in their time, with the likes of Ronaldinho and Zalatan Ibrahimovic lighting up the Parc des Princes.

Article continues under the video

The French capital club were bought by the Emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, in 2011, and since, they have been able to flex their muscles even more in the transfer market.

But they haven't always got it right. Football Transfers looks at PSG's 10 biggest transfer sale mistakes.

10) Ronaldinho - to Barcelona for €30m in 2003

In defence of PSG, there must have been little holding onto Ronaldinho when he left for Barcelona in 2003. The Brazilian genius was already one of the most entertaining players in world football across his two seasons in Paris, and had become one of the most effective too, winning the World Cup with the Selecao in 2002.

His €30m fee was a reasonable one, especially in 2003, but Ronaldinho established himself as best player in the world at Camp Nou, shining brightest in the 2005/6 campaign when he helped Barca to the continental treble of La Liga, Supercopa de Espana and Champions League.

9) Lucas Digne - to Barcelona for €20.5m in 2016

Another player who left for Barcelona, some 13 years later, was Lucas Digne. Again, PSG fetched a reasonable fee for the left-back, making a €5.5 profit on the player they signed from Lille three years earlier, but their subsequent travails in the position make the sale a mistake, nonetheless.

Layvin Kurzawa's arrival from Monaco in 2015 had prompted Digne's loan to Roma in his final PSG season. Juan Bernat was then acquired from Bayern Munich two years later, but missed more than 70 games through injury, the worst of those a ruptured cruciate ligament. An injury-free Digne has since racked up 46 France caps to Kurzawa's 13, making more than 100 Premier League appearances with Everton and Aston Villa since leaving Barca.

8) Salvatore Sirigu - to Torino on a free transfer in 2017

Salvatore Sirigu was basically signed to be Javier Pastore's mate in Paris, the goalkeeper arriving from Palermo at the same time as the Argentine in 2011 with the latter the first flagship signing of the new Qatari-back era.

But Sirigu was a revelation in goal, and became a firm fan favourite at the Parc des Princes. But then David Luiz was signed in 2014 - a fine footballer, yes, a great defender, questionable. Sirigu kept 22 clean sheets in his last season before having Luiz in front of him, and 16 in his first with him.

Allowed to leave on loan for Sevilla and Osasuna before returning to Italy in 2017 with Torino.

7) Moussa Diaby - to Bayer Leverkusen for €15m in 2019

Moussa Diaby has become one of the most potent wingers in the Bundesliga since his June 2019 move to Bayer Leverkusen, plundering 36 goals and 39 assists in all competitions since, but at least PSG got a transfer fee for him, which is more than can be said for some of the other players on this list.

Sold for €15m and now ranked at €59m by Football Transfers' sophisticated in-house algorithm, Diaby is in high demand, with Chelsea and Arsenal among five Premier League clubs to have sent scouts to watch him this season.

6) Mike Maignan - to Lille for €1m in 2015

The second goalkeeper on this list and one who surely must leave the top brass in Paris with red faces, Mike Maignan is now the AC Milan No.1 who is pushing Hugo Lloris hard for the right to be recognised as having the same status for world champions France.

Famously earned Zalatan Ibrahimovic's respect for answering back to the big Swede after saving one of his shots in training, Maignan never got his first-team debut in Paris and was allowed to leave for Lille for just €1m in 2015. Duly won the Ligue 1 title at PSG's expense in 2021 before leaving for Milan that summer.

5) Christopher Nkunku - to RB Leipzig for €13m in 2019

Christopher Nkunku was allowed to leave PSG the same summer as Diaby, but he fetched less and has done more since, blossoming into one of the most coveted players in world football during his three full seasons with RB Leipzig.

Last term, Nkunku scored 35 goals and assisted 20 more from 52 games in all competitions, his goal-involvements coming in at a rate of one every 78 minutes he played. Chelsea reportedly completed a medical with the France international in Frankfurt this summer ahead of a €60m move.

4) Zlatan Ibrahimovic - to Manchester United on a free transfer in 2016

Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe may now be united in Paris as one of the most formidable front threes ever seen in world football, but before they arrived, Zlatan Ibrahimovic was the King of Paris, scoring 156 goals in 180 games and firing them to four Ligue 1 titles, two of them coming as part of a domestic treble.

Zlatan scored every kind of goal imaginable - free-kicks, volleys, scorpion kicks other players wouldn't dream of - but Paris failed to extend his contract in the 2015/16 season. The forward was 34 at the time, and PSG probably thought the best of his career was behind him.

Duly won the Europa League with Man Utd and a second Serie A title with former club AC Milan last season, aged 40.


3) Thiago Silva - to Chelsea on a free transfer in 2020

Zlatan had arrived in Paris alongside Milan teammate Thiago Silva in the summer of 2012, with Ibrahimovic modestly explaining at the time that the newly rich capital club had signed the Rossoneri's two best players.

They turned out to be two of PSG's best players too, and Silva became captain of the club in 2013, becoming the first Brazilian to lead a side out in the Champions League final when Paris made it to that stage in 2020 - a game they lost to Bayern Munich (more on that one later…).

PSG also thought Silva had seen brighter days when they allowed his contract to run down in 2020. The very next season he won the Champions League with Chelsea and is still a fulcrum of their team today, aged 38.

2) Nicolas Anelka - to Arsenal for €575,000 in 1997

A quick hop in the time machine for this one, long before the big money arrived from the middle-east, Nicolas Anelka left PSG for a paltry €575,000 back in February 1997. The young forward had graduated from Paris's youth academy but was impatient for first-team minutes and joined Arsene Wenger's French revolution at Arsenal.

The rest, as they say, is history. Anelka top-scored for the Gunners as they did the English domestic double at Sir Alex Ferguson's Man Utd's expense in 1998, before continuing onto Real Madrid for €25.6m in 1999.

Won the Champions League with Real before an up and down career that took in Fenerbahce and Bolton but also a second wave at Chelsea, which brought with it a second Champions League final. A European champion with France to boot, PSG can only wonder what might have been.

1) Kingsley Coman - to Juventus on a free transfer in 2014

Surely the most embarrassing departure for PSG, Kingley Coman's rise since leaving is a large part of the reason president Nasser Al-Khelaifi spoke about PSG recruiting players from the surrounding area this summer.

Their youngest ever debutant when he left Paris, having played for the club at 16 years, eight months and four days, Coman left on a free for Juventus in 2014 before joining Bayern Munich on a permanent basis following a two-year loan in 2017.

Coman has won league titles in every single one of his top-flight seasons, a 10-time champions across championships in France, Italy and Germany. He's still 26.

And perhaps most painfully for PSG, that Champions League final that Silva led them out at in Lisbon in 2020 saw Bayern prevail 1-0, with Coman scoring what proved to be a winner with a header.

Never miss the next big transfer!

Get the latest transfer insights and analyses directly in your mailbox.