PSG are already better without Messi and Neymar
Luis Enrique’s arrival at PSG initially seemed an act of folly. Messi had already left, heading for Inter Miami, while Kylian Mbappe was unsettled and would soon be frozen out of first-team affairs until mid-August. It appeared that the Parc des Princes side were heading for catastrophe.
Barely two months on, PSG may only sit third in Ligue 1 having dropped points in half of their six matches, but things are looking up. Messi is gone, the club produced one of the best bits of business in the summer to recoup €90 million for Neymar, and Mbappe remains albeit under continued Real Madrid rumours.
Meanwhile, a raft of talented yet hungry new arrivals have joined, headlined by Ousmane Dembele from Barcelona.
Even if his future of the 24-year-old remains unclear, he has returned eight goals in six appearances and shows no signs of easing up. PSG, meanwhile, have won four of their last five games, scoring 15 times for the concession of just three.
After comfortably brushing aside Dortmund in the Champions League, Luis Enrique’s side gave their first true show of strength on Sunday in Le Classique as they annihilated rivals Marseille 4-0. OM, who were desperately disappointing on the night, were lucky it was that close.
But although the opponents were poor, PSG were blistering.
Luis Enrique's PSG look the real deal
Gone was the meaningless passing of the early weeks of the season, with the direct play of Bradley Barcola, Ousmane Dembele and Randal Kolo Muani terrorising the visiting defence. While Marseille were preoccupied with this trio, Achraf Hakimi surged into vacant spaces down the right and was devastating after opening the scoring from a free kick.
The midfield dominated - Manuel Ugarte's pressing was unrelenting, as it has been since he arrived in the summer - and the defence was virtually untroubled.
This was a complete PSG display and, what’s more, it was better balanced than anything seen at the club when Messi and Neymar ran the attack alongside Mbappe.
And the home fans responded. The unity on the pitch was replicated off it as the Ultras celebrated with the team, led by 17-year-old sensation Warren Zaire-Emery, who was once again exemplary in the midfield.
PSG players celebrate with the ultras.
17 y/o Warren Zaire Emery leading the chants.pic.twitter.com/YV96eAQFrH
— Robin Bairner (@RBairner) September 24, 2023
What of Mbappe in all this? He limped off injured in the first half with what proved a minor problem, having had little impact on the match.
Such was PSG’s poise in this encounter, the team barely missed a beat. It was the clearest sign that the Parc des Princes side are better placed than they have been in years. Even the possibility of losing Mbappe to Real Madrid next summer does not seem as fatal as it did a matter of weeks ago.
The excitement around Luis Enrique’s project is felt everywhere from the squad to the Parc des Princes stands, and the opposition must be wary of it now, too.
This PSG side are gaining momentum, and by the time the spring comes around, they are dreaming Luis Enrique has them more dangerous than ever.