Two competing visions of PSG are in a day to day face-off between German coach Thomas Tuchel and Portuguese Sporting Director Antero Henrique, according to Le Parisien. Their viewpoints diverge on many subjects.
The following scene took place at the end of last year. Thomas Tuchel and Antero Henrique were politely chatting over a cup of coffee about the upcoming transfer window. The coach gives at least three names he would like to have in his team: Leandro Paredes, Julian Weigl and Idrissa Gueye. He does not mention Renato Sanches at all and insists firmly but with his recognisable smile: at least one of the three players he has just cited must be present at the Camp des Loges (PSG’s training ground) for the 17th of January at the latest, when the team returns from its tour in Qatar. Henrique agrees.
Last Monday, Leandro Paredes signed a four year and a half contract with PSG. Tuchel is both relieved and irritated. The deal took longer than expected because of the settlement of several different agents’ commissions.
First summer, first bummer
Disagreements between the coach and the Sporting Director have occurred since the German’s arrival. The first tensions begain during their first summer together when not a single player was brought in to replace former club’s number eight Thiago Motta. Axel Witsel’s situation was looked upon without conviction while other leads like for Borussia Dortmund’s Julian Weigl and Monaco’s Fabinho were barely explored or evaporated quickly.
The first hitch occurred after a very short stay at Klagenfurt (Austria) for a friendly game against Bayern Munich. Indeed, Henrique tries to activate the avenue leading to Renato Sanches, a player who the Portuguese’s agent network allows him access to. The player is managed by the Portuguese super-agent, Jorge Mendes, with whom Henrique has a previously tense and intense relationship. Henrique at this point showed a desire to free himself from Tuchel’s wants and work on his own ideas. Which irritates the German coach a lot.
Tuchel is fully supported at PSG
At Dortmund, Tuchel’s relationship with still in place Sporting Director Michel Zorc was no different – volatile. Zorc would go after his own preferences like Nuri Sahin or Adrian Ramos and he largely rejected Tuchel’s suggested transfer targets. From then on, Tuchel learned to beware of individuals in Henrique and Zorc’s position. The German was directly chosen by the Qatari board and benefits from a strong legitimacy, reinforced by the support of his own players. Thiago Silva, completely revitalised under his command, when asked why PSG played with only one real midfielder – Adrien Rabiot – against Liverpool on the 18thof September (3-2), he answered: “Ask Antero!”
The Sporting Director is understood to have failed to develop affections in the 1stteam squad, creating the impression instead that he doesn’t want to be appreciated and, as a result, he seems to excel in this domain.
De Jong, Adli, and the others…
The size of the disagreements between the Tuchel & Antero have drastically increased the past few months. Tuchel had understood that Frenkie De Jong, labelled as the next “big thing”, was going to sign for PSG next season. He chose Barcelona instead on the 23th of January. He will join the Catalan side next season. Some reproaches were made towards Henrique concerning the fact he waited too long to finalise the deal and was overpowered by Barcelona in the crucial moment. The truth is somewhere in the middle; Henrique had a genuine opportunity to close the De Jong deal, but for the sake of the club was seeking to play hard-ball with Ajax to minimise FFP implications. De Jong however seemed keen on joining PSG however. His girlfriend had even started to look for apartments in the French capital…
Yacine Adli, who signed a pro contract in July 2018, was also source of division between the two men. By offering the youngster a €60k a month contract and ultimately refusing to let him go to Arsenal, Henrique showed the extent to which he believes in his potential. He did everything he could to keep Adli at the club and grew frustrated not to see him at all on the team-sheet in the 1stteam this season.
The case of the imminently out-of-contract Adrien Rabiot is another source of division between Tuchel and Henrique. The Portuguese has taken a hard-line approach, being responsible for kicking Rabiot out of the first team, whereas the German is more diplomatic and pragmatic, and has reportedly demanded to reintegrate the Frenchman into the first team if he was not satisfied with the transfer window. Multiple outlets were reporting on transfer deadline day that Tuchel vetoed deals for Thiago Mendes and Luciano Acosta in line with this thinking. Tuchel publicly indicates that he “respects the club’s decision” regarding Rabiot, but privately he criticises the way that the club has dealt with this case. At PSG, both men have their own influences, but the scale of their incompatibility is now too great to ignore.