In an interview available in its entirety in this week’s France Football magazine, PSG President Nasser Al Khelaifi sat down for a rare chat. Here are some opening gambits to wet the appetite.
On the decision to change Sporting Director:
The idea didn’t come to me on any specific days. The thinking little by little came about and ended up resulting in a decision… I realised that changes were absolutely necessary, otherwise we were going nowhere. It was time for a change. All the clubs, at one moment or another, need to give themselves a fresh face from time to time… We could not go on like this.
We all lacked character and authority. Me first, I recognise this. I am not escaping from my responsibilities. I am the first guilty party. I neither want to hide nor put the blame on the others, the players and the coach. Things didn’t work this season and it is my fault first. But things are going to change now.
On his players:
The squad needs to rediscover rigour. If a player makes a mistake, Leonardo will not play nice and he will make him understand that the club is majorly more important than him… The player are going to have to assume their responsibilities more than ever before… I want players that are proud to wear our shirt, not players who do the job only when it suits them. They are not here to have fun. And if they do not agree with that, the doors are open. Ciao! I no long want superstar behaviour.
On Kylian Mbappé:
He wants to be involved in our project to grow with the team, the club. But I have explained to him that you do not ask for responsibility. You have to go and get it, sometimes even tear it off from somewhere else. You don’t wait, you provoke. As he is very intelligent, I am sure that he has understood… I am not 100% sure, but 200% sure (that he will not be leaving). I am not going to let go of this unbelievable player.
I want players that are ready to give everything to defend the honour of our shirt and who sign up to the club’s project. Those who do not want to, or do not understand it, we meet and we speak. There are of course contracts to respect, but the priority now is complete commitment to our project… Nobody forced him to sign here. Nobody pushed him to. He came with a fully understanding of the cause to sign up to a project.