FEATURE | Ominous and authoritative – Luis Enrique’s maiden title with PSG

This probably wasn’t the way that Luis Enrique expected to win his first league title with Paris Saint-Germain. There was something strange about waiting on the result of AS Monaco’s visit to Olympique Lyonnais that was out of keeping with how the rest of the season had played out for Les Parisiens.

No club has come close to touching PSG across the breadth of the season. There had been some promising pretenders, such as OGC Nice, but all of them eventually fell short, and with three games of the campaign remaining, Les Parisiens could celebrate their twelfth league title after the Principality dropped points in a 3-2 defeat. 

The truth is that Luis Enrique has known for some time that he was going to win this competition, since mid-February he has been using it as a springboard for his ideas, a place where he could experiment and “prepare” for a future without the club’s all-time top scorer, Kylian Mbappé. 

And while there is always the charge of simplicity to PSG’s feats, as the club will constantly be brandished with the fact that they operate at a different financial level to the rest of the league, there was something different about this championship, something that should not be ignored or pushed aside simply because of the club’s immense wealth. 

It was a title built on a new foundation. Luis Enrique has managed to bring seriousness and accountability to a club that has often approached the league with a laissez-faire swagger, a trophy that they expected to win while they waited for the only competition that truly mattered to them; the Champions League. 

Luis Enrique and the end of star power at the Parc des Princes 

Even in his experiments and his rotations, Luis Enrique has instilled a sense of hunger in the side. The usual star power that had come to define the past decade of Zlatan Ibrahimović, Neymar, and even Lionel Messi has been stripped away leaving in its place a young and balanced squad of players who look desperate to be a part of the Spaniard’s plans. 

It’s hard to imagine this new PSG under Luis Enrique allowing Ibrahimović’s ridiculous departure at the end of the 2015/16 season. The Swedish striker left the Parc des Princes in his final game at the stadium as a substitute without a replacement, escorted by his two children with ‘King’ and ‘Legend’ emblazoned on the back of their shirts. 

Especially when Luis Enrique was content to upset the biggest star that has ever entered the club when he substituted Mbappé early during what looks to be his final Le Classique, a decision that turned out to be the right one as Gonçalo Ramos came onto the pitch and helped kill the game and finish off any hopes that Olympique de Marseille held of mounting a rare home victory against their eternal rivals. 

His handling of Mbappé has perhaps been the one sour note to the league title. The forward appears as if he has grown frustrated with his manager limiting his minutes during Ligue 1 games. And yet even in this approach, there is the sign of something important. A reshaping of the power structures within the capital, where the star is no longer the voice in command. 

It has looked obvious for a very long time that a team designed with the desire to win the Champions League above all else was a flawed prospect. The club could not coast through the season and then tune into the right mentality when it suited them, they needed a consistent winning mentality. However, under Luis Enrique, it feels as if PSG have finally woken up to this fact, they have approached Ligue 1 with a sense of respect, and their prize may well be that this new mentality will help them win their ultimate prize.

GFFN | Nick Hartland

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