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Will Christophe Galtier and Luis Campos sink or swim at PSG?

Sports Mole takes an in-depth look at whether PSG's new management team can help the French champions dominate domestically and finally shake off the shackles of European despair.

A new era beckons at Paris Saint-Germain in the coming months, as events unfold following the surprise contract extension of superstar striker Kylian Mbappe.

The French capital club have already appointed a new sporting director in the place of high-profile predecessor Leonardo, as former Lille and Monaco mastermind Luis Campos takes the helm of their sports department.

Next in line for PSG's ever-ambitious Qatari ownership, headed by president Nasser Al-Khelaifi, is a change in the dugout, with current incumbent Mauricio Pochettino set to make way despite lifting the Ligue 1 title last month.

Pochettino will be the latest in a long line of managers to receive pay-offs from the club's apparently bottomless coffers, and Al-Khelaifi has reportedly agreed a €10 million deal to acquire the new man stepping into the hottest of hot-seats: Christophe Galtier.

Current employers Nice are expected to put up little resistance, given such significant compensation, so should Campos and Galtier be reunited after a profitable partnership at Lille, will PSG's chances of finally claiming Champions League glory improve?

Is it to be sink or swim? Sports Mole assesses their chances.



SINK?

Nice coach Christophe Galtier on March 1, 2022© Reuters

Yet again, failure to lift Europe's top prize has cost an otherwise successful Paris Saint-Germain manager his job, after the implosion against Real Madrid in this year's quarter-finals under Mauricio Pochettino. That leaves behind an enticing vacancy.

Conventional wisdom holds that 'superclubs' need a man at the top who has already won the Champions League as either a player or manager in order to be respected, and since Christophe Galtier's name surged to the top of a starry shortlist, several ex-pros have been quick to proclaim this point.

Though he has earned a continent-wide reputation for his work in recent years - with Jose Mourinho an avowed fan - can a former Portsmouth assistant really capture the attention of a diverse dressing room featuring talents such as Lionel Messi, Neymar and - still - Kylian Mbappe?

Critics suggest that a renowned man-manager and ego-balancer such as Zinedine Zidane, who apparently rebuffed PSG's advances, would fulfil the criteria more closely, but perhaps even a proven winner like Zizou - who boasts plenty of experience dealing with Florentino Perez among others - would struggle to succeed at the Parc des Princes.

Long-standing cliques and vested interests are among the problems awaiting Galtier in his already bulging inbox, as the 55-year-old coach will immediately have to master the dressing room and, inevitably, bench players whose level of performance on the pitch does not match that of their notoriety - or, indeed, salary.

Having once said that a squad "needs justice and transparency", Galtier could find it tough to instil either, and talk of bringing Nice midfielder Khephren Thuram with him to the champions illustrates his preference for sculpting less-heralded players over buying ready-made stars.

While the Marseille-born manager would take charge having already demonstrated his credentials at Ligue 1 level, there are those who suggest that his Nice side could have fared better last season, considering the investment made by owners Ineos.

Particularly from an attacking point of view, Les Aiglons often failed to control possession and build play in their opponents' half. Even at home, against modest opposition from the bottom half of the table, Galtier often opted for a relatively cautious approach - that will simply not fly in Paris.

The South Coast side finished with a tally of 52 goals, which represents the second-fewest among Ligue 1 clubs finishing inside the top 10, and that lack of fluency provides fuel for the fire stoked by doubters - of which there remain many.



OR SWIM?

Nice head coach Christophe Galtier pictured in August 2021© Reuters

While far from spectacular last term, Nice were typically well-organised by a coach lauded more than once by master tactician Thomas Tuchel, and tied with Paris Saint-Germain for fewest goals conceded over the course of the campaign.

Clearly, Galtier has come a long way since taking the role of Alain Perrin's sidekick at Portsmouth back in 2005, and even played a part in undermining his potential predecessor at PSG, when Pochettino failed to guide his star-studded outfit to the title and Lille secured an improbable triumph last year.

Aided by the near-faultless recruitment of Luis Campos - a former manager on the Portuguese Primeira Liga circuit who previously worked wonders at Monaco - Galtier overcame the financial might of PSG's state-funded model - inspiring every last ounce of effort from a squad led by veterans Burak Yilmaz and Jose Fonte.

The budget at the northern club was, in contrast to regular splurges by their capital city counterparts, funded by sales - so player development was all-important as a result.

Earlier this month, Campos arrived at the Parc des Princes as the club's new 'Football Advisor', which entails "focus on performance, recruitment, and organisation", and he will be expected to live up to the reputation developed down in Monaco between 2013 and 2016.

There, the former tactical analyst oversaw the signings of Radamel Falcao, Joao Moutinho, Bernardo Silva, Fabinho, Thomas Lemar and many others, and his brief marriage with Galtier at Lille proved similarly fruitful - albeit shopping from a different range.

Lille coach Christophe Galtier before the match in August 2019© Reuters

Even before that success, Galtier's track record in French football speaks for itself, as he led now-relegated Saint-Etienne to their first trophy in over three decades back in 2013, by winning the Coupe de la Ligue.

When he then moved on to manage Lille in 2017, they languished down in 18th place, but after assuring safety from relegation, the following season he led them to runners-up spot, before going one better 12 months later.

Most recently, the former defender - who has been named Ligue 1 manager of the year three times - managed to take four points off PSG last term; also eliminating his likely new employers from the Coupe de France.

So with an impressive CV and support from the new sporting director in his favour - perhaps the first time a PSG coach will have had such unalloyed backing over the last decade - what of Galtier's qualities as a manager?

A pragmatist by nature, he has spoken of the head coach's job being primarily one of "human relations", and is always keen to assist the man behind the player.

He sees himself in the Sir Alex Ferguson mould rather than being a dogmatic obsessive like Pep Guardiola, once stating: "I'm not a chess player."

However, at PSG, as he will already be aware, the man in charge must deal with several kings and perhaps not enough pawns.

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Nice coach Christophe Galtier reacts on January 14, 2022
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