Before the entry into contention of PSG in the Champions League against Club Bruges this Wednesday evening (9 p.m.) as part of the first day of the group stage of the Champions League, Leonardo, the sporting director of the Parisian club, mentioned many subjects at the microphone of Canal +, from Kylian Mbappé to Lionel Messi, including Javier Tebas. The complete transcript of his interview.
The great favorite of the Champions League PSG: a fair finding or a slightly dangerous shortcut?
“We have reached this level and we are not hiding”
Honestly, I think we’ve been in the favorites for a while. It’s not something that will start this year. It is something that has gradually risen: we have reached this level and we are not hiding. After having the three best players in the world on the same team (Messi, Neymar, Mbappé, editor’s note), I think that never happened. Because even the other teams which had three players of this level, they did not have all the other players that we have, in all roles. You cannot play a role other than that of favorite. We assume that, we are happy: it’s everyday life.
A failure if PSG does not win the Champions League?
Why would you want to think about that? Tell me why ? It is a mentality that must be changed. Why, in September, do we have to think that if we don’t win, it will be a failure? When you look at the squad, the stadium, the city, the supporters we have, why do you think we’re going to lose? We will do everything to win. Afterwards, if you lose, unfortunately that’s part (of football, editor’s note).
Is the challenge of the season to ensure that Messi, Neymar and Mbappé play together and that they do not enter a personal competition in statistics?
If I look at Mbappé, Neymar and Messi, I think they are very, very complementary. They are completely different players, each number one in their characteristics. But honestly, I see them together in a very easy way. And I don’t see a feeling of envy between them, of jealousy, I don’t see that. It’s the opposite, I see the joy of seeing players of this level arrive.
Do you realize that it is not enough to stack stars but that you have to make a team?
“It’s not a question of stacking stars”
Honestly, I think we have a very balanced squad. It is not a question of stacking stars. I think that if we look at each role, each position, each way we play, even the variation we can give to our game, I think we have something unique, very strong. Afterwards, you have to put all this together, create the organization of a game in order to still be among the best in the world.
It’s Pochettino’s job. Is he serene?
He is very calm. I think it’s very good and very positive in relation to its management. From time to time, it is not easy, because you have to create this energy between club, coach, player. Maybe I’m overly optimistic, but I really see it created. And Pochettino has an important general vision regarding the management of a club.
What response to criticism from Spanish clubs and Javier Tebas in particular?
(Sighs) It doesn’t annoy me too much. For me, they are out of place. Honestly, I don’t see a person in their role having statements like that. But it may be more to talk about him or La Liga, at a time when La Liga is not in very good health, rather than something else. We respect all the rules of financial fair play, we have people who take care of that, we know our arguments very well. And in everything we do, we take that into account. This is why there is nothing that is not in line with financial fair play.
Kylian Mbappé who remains at PSG, good news as a leader?
“I don’t see Kylian leaving at the end of this season”
Honestly, it was just the news that could happen. We never thought of doing all this without Mbappé. You know the story a bit, we were not happy with the behavior of Real Madrid: arriving at the last week of the transfer window and starting negotiations for one of the best players in the world. It created a situation that we didn’t like. Honestly, we never thought (to sell it, editor’s note). We were clear about the offer they made: it was not enough from our point of view. It was less than what we had paid. The last offer never arrived. You cannot organize a transfer window, a season for 2-3-4 months, prepare all that and at the last week change your plans like that. I think Mbappé represents a bit of the difference between the superficial and the deep. Mbappé is deep and for something deep, you don’t argue like that. I don’t see Kylian leaving at the end of this season.
Still hoping to extend Mbappé?
We never changed our goal. Mbappé’s relationship with PSG is deep, that’s why we don’t think of anything else. I don’t think anyone can imagine the PSG of the future without Kylian.
If he left at the end of the season, would it be dramatic or is it life, football?
We haven’t thought about it without him yet.
You are not considering it. For you it will stay, it will even extend?
We can’t imagine a departure because Mbappé represents a lot of things. Not just because he is the Frenchman, the best player in the world. He has a way of being that we like, that everyone likes. The player is fabulous. Thinking of Messi, Neymar and Mbappé is not something you only want to watch for a year. It’s something we want to experience and we will try everything.