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PSG 2022-23 season review - star player, best moment, standout result

Sports Mole takes an in-depth look back at Paris Saint-Germain's 2022-23 season, which saw them couple another Ligue 1 title with more Champions League heartache.

Another year, another whirlwind of a campaign for Paris Saint-Germain. Their 11th and obligatory Ligue 1 title may have been sealed - albeit with a few scares along the way - but on-field shortcomings and off-field controversies once again threatened to tarnish the club's image.

In the wake of Mauricio Pochettino's sacking, Christophe Galtier - who had ended PSG's spate of French top-flight dominance with Lille in 2021 - was the next brave soul to cup the poisoned chalice with both hands, but the unforgiving Parisiens board are unlikely to persist with the 56-year-old beyond the summer.

Amid a Ligue 1 title race that was far more nail-biting than PSG are often accustomed too, the capital club's Champions League hoodoo remained well and truly alive, while their powers in the Coupe de France also waned.

Here, Sports Mole takes an in-depth look back at PSG's chaotic 2022-23 campaign.


Paris Saint-Germain's (PSG) Achraf Hakimi celebrates scoring their second goal with teammates on May 13, 2023© Reuters

Final league position: 1st

Coupe de France: Last 16

Trophee des Champions: Winners

Champions League: Last 16

Top scorer: Kylian Mbappe (41)

Most assists: Lionel Messi (20)

Midfield incomings and outgoings were the theme of PSG's first transfer window under the watchful eye of Galtier and football advisor Luis Campos, who sought to move away from the signings of established big names, bringing in Vitinha, Renato Sanches, Fabian Ruiz, Carlos Soler, Nordi Mukiele and Hugo Ekitike during a significant summer of change.

To start with, the Galtier era could hardly have begun any better. The Frenchman won a piece of silverware in his maiden match - overseeing a 4-0 win over Nantes in the Trophee des Champions - before guiding his team to eight triumphs from their first nine Ligue 1 matches during an imperious start to their title defence.

A 7-1 obliteration of Galtier's former club Lille came in that hot streak, and the Ligue 1 champions also made a steady start to their pursuit of an elusive Champions League crown, picking up two wins against Juventus and Maccabi Haifa but being forced to accept second place in the group due to Benfica's superior away goals scored column.

As PSG began their quest for continental glory, the club were rocked by reports stating that Mbappe regretted signing a new contract and decided that he wanted out after all. Alleged broken promises and rumours of a frosty relationship with Neymar apparently contributed to his thought process, but the Frenchman blocked out the speculation and continued to thrive in Galtier's fearsome trident.

The Parisiens' maintained their unbeaten streak prior to the World Cup, where Mbappe and Messi butted heads in arguably one of the greatest finals to ever grace our screens, and the latter travelled home from Qatar with the trophy firmly encased in his luggage.

However, Messi and PSG's New Year celebrations were ruined on the first day of 2023, as their 23-game unbeaten run to start the season came to an end in a 3-1 loss away to Lens - that reverse did not impact their standing at the summit, though.

A mid-season sojourn to Saudi Arabia soon took precedence as Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo renewed their unparalleled rivalry in a hybrid friendly - where PSG defeated a Riyadh All-Stars XI 5-4 - but as Valentine's Day approached, Galtier was not feeling the love.

Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) coach Christophe Galtier looks dejected after the match on February 11, 2023© Reuters

A torrid three-game losing streak saw PSG knocked out of the Coupe de France to Marseille in the last 16, suffer a 3-1 Ligue 1 beating away at Monaco and go down 1-0 to Bayern Munich in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie, leaving them on the brink of another premature exit from the continent's premier tournament.

The trigger-happy board apparently began discussing Galtier's future at this point, but there was a silver lining off the pitch as Messi collected the Best Men's Player prize at FIFA's The Best Awards in February. Mbappe and Achraf Hakimi also made the Men's World XI, although rape allegations against the latter - which he vehemently refuted - surfaced barely an hour before he attended the ceremony.

On the field, preparations for a trek to Munich could have hardly been better. A slice of Messi free-kick magic sealed an enthralling 4-3 win over Lille, their Coupe de France loss was avenged with a 3-0 win over Marseille in Le Classique, and Mbappe became the club's highest goalscorer of all time in a 4-2 victory over Nantes. Neymar's season-ending ankle injury in the former game soured the mood a little bit, though.

Despite building up a head of steam, there was to be no Munich miracle for PSG, who went out of the Champions League with a whimper once again. Only 11 days later, their 35-game unbeaten home run in Ligue 1 came to an end at the hands of Rennes, as the wheels threatened to come off completely.

More off-field scandals also plagued the club, as alleged leaked emails accused Galtier of racism during his time in charge of Nice - which he firmly denied - and domestic shortcomings left the door ajar for Lens and Marseille to spark an unfancied title fight.

A 3-1 top-of-the-table win over the former restored some order, but PSG's home frailties remained well and truly alive in a subsequent 3-1 loss to Lorient, which would indirectly lead to the most farcical episode of the PSG soap opera yet. Under the assumption that the squad would enjoy a Monday off as per, Messi travelled to Saudi Arabia to fulfil commercial commitments without informing the club, but Galtier had instead called his players in while the Argentine was 30,000 feet in the air.

Laying down the law, PSG fined and suspended Messi for an initial two-week period amid ugly fan protests outside the club's headquarters and Neymar's house. At this point, the former's chances of a renewal had been completely extinguished, but he was allowed to make an early return to the squad after posting a public apology.

Messi's opener in a 1-1 draw with Strasbourg would ultimately prove to be the goal that would clinch the Ligue 1 crown for PSG with a game to spare - good thing too, as the champions ended the campaign with another dismal home defeat, this time at the hands of high-flying Clermont.


Wins: 27 (1st)
Draws: 4 (20th)
Losses: 7 (19th)
Goals scored: 89 (1st)
Goals conceded: 40 (=16th)
Yellow cards: 57 (16th)
Red cards: 5 (=7th)
Passes: 25296 (1st)
Shots: 562 (1st)
Saves: 120 (9th)
Tackles: 612 (17th)
Own goals: 1 (=13th)
Clearances: 432 (20th)


Paris Saint-Germain manager Mauricio Pochettino pictured on April 23, 2022© Reuters

Like many before him and potentially many after him, Pochettino's PSG tenure was incredibly short-lived, but the Argentine was at least able to seal Ligue 1 glory earlier than his successor was.

During the 2021-22 campaign, PSG had confirmed their status as champions with four games to spare, but they only managed to do so with one game remaining this time around, while also posting a marginally worse points total.

Pochettino amassed 86 points with PSG in 2021-22, while Galtier took 85 this time around, and his Parisiens team scored 89 top-flight goals compared to 90 in the previous campaign.

There may have only been one point and one goal separating Galtier and Pochettino's PSG teams, but the 2022-23 season saw the capital outfit ship 40 goals in the top flight, four more than their 36 conceded last term.

A spate of Ligue 1 titles is all well and good, but PSG once again proved unable to shake the Champions League last-16 curse in the wake of their 3-2 aggregate loss to Real Madrid at that stage in 2021-22.

Les Parisiens at least won the first leg in that tie before a Bernabeu trouncing, but their exit was far more chastening this time around, as a 3-0 Bayern success saw PSG bow out in the last 16 for the fifth time in seven seasons.

An identical fate also plagued PSG in the Coupe de France, where they lost in the last 16 to eventual runners-up Nice on penalties, and their run was brought to a halt at the same point this time around by bitter rivals Marseille.

On a more positive note, Galtier was able to better Pochettino's fortunes in the Trophee des Champions, overseeing a 4-0 win over Nantes in the annual curtain raiser following a 1-0 defeat to Lille in 2021.


Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe celebrates scoring on April 21, 2023© Reuters

Just over 12 months ago, a parting of the ways seemed inevitable between Mbappe and PSG, as Real Madrid relentlessly tried to seduce the 24-year-old to join the Bernabeu ranks after failing with a nine-figure offer during the summer of 2021.

However, following an unforeseen and very high-profile contract renewal, Mbappe committed himself to at least another two years of terrorising Ligue 1 defences, and the former Monaco wonderkid certainly succeeded in that regard once again.

The two-horse battle for the Golden Boot between Mbappe and Lyon skipper Alexandre Lacazette was a riveting one, and the former eventually won out with 29 top-flight strikes to top the rankings, as well as seven in the Champions League and five in the Coupe de France to post a staggering 41 in total.

Either side of being forced to deny reports of a possible January exit, Mbappe became PSG's highest goalscorer in Europe and the first-ever Parisiens player to score five goals in a single game in their 7-0 Coupe de France destruction of Pays de Cassel, before finally surpassing Edinson Cavani at the top of his team's all-time scoring column.

Mbappe achieved his record-breaking 201 goals in 51 fewer games than Cavani and has offered PSG fans hope of a long-term stay by announcing his desire to lead the club to Champions League glory, but with his 12-month extension until 2025 yet to be triggered, a sizeable question mark continues to hang over the Frenchman's head.


Paris Saint-Germain's (PSG) Lionel Messi celebrates scoring their fourth goal with Carlos Soler and Kylian Mbappe on February 19, 2023© Reuters

Prior to another reunion with his former employers, the first seeds of doubt were sewn regarding Galtier's future at PSG in the wake of three successive losses to Marseille, Monaco and Bayern Munich in three separate competitions.

Defeat to the former ended Les Parisiens hopes of Coupe de France glory, Monaco had put a dent in the champions' hopes of retaining their title, and another premature Champions League departure was almost certain in the wake of their Bayern beating - to say that Galtier needed to save face when Lille came to town on February 19 would have been an understatement.

On the back of the 7-1 humiliation that they inflicted upon Les Dogues at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy in August, PSG's quest for a double started in ideal fashion, as Mbappe's sublime piece of skill and Neymar's tap-in propelled the hosts into a two-goal lead within the first 20 minutes.

A deft Bafode Diakite header would reduce the deficit before the break, and the wheels soon came off for PSG, who lost Nuno Mendes and Neymar - the latter of whom was stretchered off - to injuries before the dogged Dogues turned the tie on its head.

Jonathan David levelled matters from the spot after Marco Verratti's tug on Tiago Djalo inside the area, and one long ball over the top had the PSG defence at sixes and sevens in the 69th minute, allowing Jonathan Bamba to race through and fire home from a tight angle.

Just when it seemed like Galtier's former attacking stars would have the last laugh, a slick passing move ended with Mbappe scoring the game's sixth goal in the 87th minute, and Dogues captain Benjamin Andre would proceed to give away a dangerous free kick in Messi territory with seconds remaining.

Andre would live to regret that foul, as Messi stood over the ball some 25 yards from goal, let fly with his left foot and witnessed his sumptuous strike nestle in off the post to cap off a wonderful advert for French football.

> Click here for a full list of PSG's results from the 2022-23 season


Kylian Mbappe celebrates scoring for Paris Saint-Germain on March 4, 2023© Reuters

Only a few months after it was alleged that he had performed a psychological U-turn on his decision to sign a new contract, Mbappe let emotion take over as he officially became the greatest goalscorer in PSG's long and illustrious history.

A personalised trophy with Mbappe's name on it was awaiting him during March's visit of Nantes, and no fewer than five goals flew in before second-half stoppage time, but the Frenchman was still waiting for his golden moment.

However, with only minutes remaining, Nantes failed to clear their lines after an episode of pinball around their penalty area, and Timothee Pembele charged down the right before picking out Mbappe, who produced a silky turn to evade Jean-Charles Castelletto and find the bottom corner.

The game had already been won by that point, but an overjoyed Mbappe celebrated in an unrestrainable manner, as flags and big-screen displays emblazoned with the number 201 lit up the Parc des Princes.

An on-field ceremony followed for the 24-year-old, who admitted that he could never have dreamed of breaking the record while donning the captain's armband, and the demeanour of his wild celebrations laid to rest any doubts about his love for the capital club.


Christophe Galtier is unveiled as Paris Saint-Germain's new manager in July 2022© Reuters

Yet another summer of managerial uncertainty awaits PSG, who are highly unlikely to persist with Galtier in the wake of another doomed Champions League campaign and a Ligue 1 title that was far from the formality that is usually is.

Links with Zinedine Zidane will no doubt begin to re-emerge, while Julian Nagelsmann is also being discussed, but Roma boss Jose Mourinho is now thought to be one of the leading candidates to take over at the Parc des Princes, having led the Giallorossi to Europa Conference League glory and a Europa League final since making the switch to Italy.

The Parisiens's notoriously ruthless board could do a lot worse than hire the knockout specialist as they strive to end their continental hoodoo, but recruting the right on-field staff will no doubt be as important, especially with the futures of their famed attacking trident up in the air.

Messi is on his way out, Neymar could very well be joining him, and the Mbappe-Real Madrid speculation will seemingly not cease while the Frenchman's 12-month contract extension is yet to be activated. Hugo Ekitike has shown promise in the final few weeks of the season, but using their financial firepower to seduce Harry Kane or Victor Osimhen would not be the worst idea.

Sergio Ramos has also said his goodbyes, although the imminent arrival of Milan Skriniar from Inter Milan and Marquinhos's contract renewal will lessen the impact of the Spaniard's exit, and the midfield is a peculiar area for the French champions.

Arguably none of Vitinha, Ruiz, Soler or Sanches did themselves justice in their debut seasons, while Leandro Paredes does not appear to have a future at the club either and could make way for either Manu Kone or Bernardo Silva, both of whom would add a new dimension to the Parisiens' engine room, while bringing Xavi Simons back to the club from PSV Eindhoven is another avenue that the Parisiens could explore.


Given the lofty expectations of the owners and their ultras, Ligue 1 titles bear little merit for PSG in this day and age, and it would be seen as an abject failure for the perennial champions to lose their grip on the crown.

Galtier may have therefore achieved the bare minimum set out in the terms of his contract, and being able to deploy the fear-inducing front three of Messi, Mbappe and Neymar would be a dream for any top-level manager, but there was a sense of emptiness once the curtain closed on the campaign.

Still unable to lift the last-16 Champions League curse that has tormented them in the past several seasons, PSG were never far from the centre of controversy, namely when the allegations surrounding Galtier came to light and when their punishment of Messi - who often received hostile treatment from the home crowd - was slammed by former players and managers alike, namely Antoine Kombouare and Javier Mascherano.

Two domestic trophies is nothing to be scoffed at - even with PSG's financial firepower - but for as long as the Parisiens continue to fall short in Europe, there will never be a season where the fans, hierarchy or indeed players will be fully satisfied with their year's work.

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