Paris Saint-Germain have just rounded off an impressive fortnight of business, which has seen the French champions navigate UEFA’s short-term financial fair play (FFP) sanctions, and it is thanks to the impressive work of one man.
PSG sporting director Antero Henrique’s mission was made clear in mid-June: raise between €40 and €60 million before the end of the month, or Les Parisiens would fail to comply with this year’s break-even requirements.
The financial situation for PSG in the coming 12 months looks testing, with last summer’s mega money signings of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe still to be taken into account, but PSG have a number of new or renewed commercial income sources waiting in the wings.
To have fallen at such a relatively small hurdle before financial matters truly got complicated would have represented a significant failure on Henrique’s part, but to his credit, he performed admirably during the final two weeks of June.
PSG finally started to make moves in this summer’s transfer market this week, announcing that Arsenal target Yacine Adli chose to sign his first professional contract with his formative club. The Ligue 1 giants are expected to announce the signing of Gianluigi Buffon on a free transfer shortly.
Most of this has been made possible by Henrique’s hard work before the end of June, notably the sales of Javier Pastore, Yuri Berchiche, Odsonne Edouard and Jonathan Ikone, as well as the Thiago Motta and Hatem Ben Arfa reaching the ends of their significant contracts. Pastore has joined Roma, Berchiche has signed for Athletic Club, Edouard was bought outright by Celtic after a successful initial loan spell, and Ikone has been snapped up by Lille after 18 months with Montpellier.
The Argentina international fetched €20m and there is an additional €4m bonus, while the Spaniard cost €20m and could still fetch a few million more in bonuses, and Edouard combined with Ikone raked in a cool €15m.
Pastore’s departure was the most significant, not least because he was the first big money signing of Oryx Qatar Sports Investments’ (QSI) ambitious project in Paris and a popular figure with the supporters, but also because he was entering into his final 12 months of contract and was injury-prone for the most part of his seven-year stay at Parc des Princes.
Berchiche’s sale was also impressive business: just under one week shy of the one-year anniversary of his signing for PSG for €13m plus a potential €3m in bonuses, he was sold at a profit of at least €7m off the back of a solid but unspectacular season.
If Henrique deserves particular praise for flogging Pastore and Berchiche on such favourable terms for PSG, then he should be considered a genius for conjuring up €15m for Edouard and Ikone, who could both yet earn the kings of Le Championnat sizeable figures through sell-on fees.
Edouard fared well on loan with Celtic, well enough for them to make him their all-time record signing, yet he was never realistically going to get a look in with Mbappe, Neymar and Edinson Cavani leading the attack under Thomas Tuchel.
The 20-year-old was also entering the final 12 months of his contract, and his maturity had been questioned after an air gun incident on loan with Toulouse landed him with a four-month suspended prison sentence, which was eventually upheld — despite appeal.
Like Edouard, Ikone was also out of the senior picture with Mbappe, Neymar and Cavani around, and considering that his Montpellier form was not exactly strong, €5m was a good fee.
Excluding the potential extra money earned through bonuses, PSG chased €55m worth of talent in the final two weeks of June, and the bonuses included in the Pastore and Berchiche sales will push that ultimate figure beyond €60m.
Removing the South American, the Basque, Motta and Ben Arfa from the capital club’s bloated wage bill was an impressive feat, and it has created more than enough space to sign Buffon to an attractive contract without a transfer fee now that PSG’s short-term FFP worries are over.
On top of that, two players who were linked with moves away but could still have futures at Parc des Princes under Tuchel — Alphonse Areola and Goncalo Guedes — have been retained. The Portugal international and the Frenchman may yet be sold, especially with money needed over the next 12 months to avoid further FFP complications next summer, but Henrique also has the likes of Jese Rodriguez and Grzegorz Krychowiak, as well as any other players Tuchel deems surplus to requirements, to move on before being forced to sell such valuable assets.
It might have taken a while, but the former Porto man has finally proved his worth as sporting director and Tuchel will now start his tenure with a largely untouched senior squad to the one Unai Emery possessed.
PSG’s FFP situation could still change in the future, especially if a review into UEFA’s favourable decision results in stricter action, but for now, Henrique has demonstrated that PSG possess the right man to aid their battle against FFP.
Jonathan Johnson covers PSG and the French national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @Jon_LeGossip.