It’s tough to watch, but PSG is doing the right thing

It's tough to watch, but PSG is doing the right thing

On the one hand, the architects of this PSG team probably should be applauded for actually taking the time to step back and try to create a team instead of collecting players. Messi left, Neymar decamped for Saudi Arabia and PSG didn’t chase whatever shiny thing they could find to plug the holes, not of the functioning team, but of the fame and allure those players provided. PSG have gone young. Four starters in yesterday’s 1-1 draw with Newcastle were 25 or under and another three came off the bench. That doesn’t even include Warren Zaire-Emery, out until the new year with injury.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t growing pains. Some ugly ones at that.

The stats say PSG put up 4.54 xG against Newcastle. Even if Kylian Mbappe’s penalty were subtracted from that, it’s over 3.5 xG. And yet for most of the match, it felt like Newcastle had an easy time keeping PSG at bay, watching them harmlessly cycle the ball from one side to the other, 5-10 yards outside the box and back again. Only a final flurry looked dangerous.

And even then, PSG’s finishing was comedic. Substitute Bradley Barcola particularly had an acute case of not knowing which way was up:

But he wasn’t alone. Ousmane Dembele had six shots, only two on target, and, well…

It was the second straight room-temperature-soda performance from PSG in the Champions League, who got tonked by AC Milan last time out. A Milan side that looked utterly insipid against Dortmund yesterday, mind.

This is probably the story for PSG, and what they accepted, taking a step back to build something better in the future. But while players like Zaire-Emery, Ugarte, Kolo Muani, Ramos, and others are getting invaluable experience, Mbappe isn’t going to wait around for that experience to bear fruit. And as good of a team as those young players might form one day, without Mbappe at the sharp end of the stick, it’s not one that’s going to claim the club’s first European Cup that it craves so desperately. Watching a bunch of youngsters dry-hump a football through Champions League matches is only going to pave Mbappe’s road to Madrid.

PSG are still in control of their own destiny and a win at Dortmund in two weeks will take them through. So will a draw if Newcastle don’t beat Milan. But that appears to be the ceiling of their ambition.

It was the right call to try something new after a decade of trying to get a supergroup to come good. It’s just funny that taking the right step will ensure that this method also comes up empty on the big prize.

Mark Cuban selling the Mavs to the Adelsons

Mark Cuban appears to be pulling off quite the coup by selling a majority stake of the Mavericks to Miriam Adelson for $3.5 billion while maintaining operating control. Nice gig if you can get it.

There’s always some ickiness to these kinds of transactions. The Adelsons are not exactly warm and cuddly and the NBA at least pretends to care about the character of the people that buy their franchises. This won’t be stopped, of course, because with franchise valuations going to the moon and beyond there’s a small pool of people who can afford to pay them, and an even smaller pool of people who can pay those prices who would pass the smell test.

Still, one wonders what the Adelsons are getting at here. At $3.5 billion, how much higher do they think that will go to get a return on investment? That’s the overall goal, always. The Mavs already have a newish building to play in. TV deals are going to look very different very soon, likely with the NBA taking control of local broadcasts one day soon. What will escalate the franchise values from here?

The Adelsons know more about this than you or I, admittedly. Can’t help but wonder how much farther this road goes, though. Will they be holding up Dallas for a new arena soon? Hell, the Texas Rangers did it when their stadium got to 30 years old. American Airlines Center is at 22. And certainly, no one would weep if it ends up being something they take a bath on, I s’pose.

Follow Sam on Twitter @Felsgate and on Bluesky

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About the Author

Anthony Barnett
Anthony is the author of the Science & Technology section of ANH.