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Financial Fair Play main threat to PSG dominance ‘We have sufficient quality to dominate at home’

PARIS, Aug 5, (AFP): Paris Saint-Germain threaten to again run away with the Ligue 1 title but punishments from UEFA in relation to Financial Fair Play could prove a thorn in the side in their pursuit of greater acclaim. PSG strolled to a second successive championship last season, and with nearest rivals Monaco losing Colombian World Cup star James Rodriguez to Real Madrid, there appear few on-field obstacles to the capital side retaining their title. However, the financial constraints imposed upon the Qatari-bankrolled club by European football’s governing body are another matter.

PSG, along with Premier League champions Manchester City, were in May slapped with a fine of 60 million euros ($82 million, £49 million) for breaching FFP regulations, namely accruing losses in excess of the 45-million-euro limit over the course of the past two seasons. The French champions, in addition, agreed not to increase the club’s wage bill for the next two campaigns and to “significantly limit spending” in the transfer market while curbing losses to no more than 30 million euros next year.

Club president Nasser Al-Khelaifi bemoaned the sanctions, saying they would represent a “tremendous handicap”, particularly in PSG’s quest for continental success. But he defiantly proclaimed that nothing would derail PSG’s five-year plan, a blueprint laid out by Qatar Sports Investments following their takeover in June 2011 targeting a Champions League title by 2016, adding: “To be clear — the players I want, I’ll have them.” True to his word Al-Khelaifi and PSG soon splashed out a reported 50 million euros, a world record fee for a defender, to sign Chelsea’s David Luiz.
 
And they then appeared to devise a way to circumvent the restrictions in place with the season-long loan signing of Ivory Coast defender Serge Aurier from Toulouse - a deal which includes an option for PSG to eventually make the move permanent. It is reported that a similar arrangement could also pave the way for Argentine winger Angel Di Maria to arrive in Paris from Real Madrid, initially on loan. Whether such a deal is feasible remains to be seen with PSG still seemingly needing to offload players — Alex, Jeremy Menez and Christophe Jallet have already left — to adhere to the wage restrictions administered by the FFP ruling.
 
Nevertheless, coach Laurent Blanc, who in May signed a contract extension to keep him at the club until 2016, can be confident that his squad already has sufficient quality to dominate at home. They gave a hint of what could be to come when they brushed aside Guingamp 2-0 in the season-opening Champions Trophy in Beijing last weekend. Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored both goals in that game and this will be an important season for the outstanding player in France in the last two years. The Swede will turn 33 in October and may view this as his last realistic chance to win the Champions League, the trophy that he and PSG desire more than anything else. But his importance at the Parc des Princes also presents a problem that Blanc has not yet been able to solve — how to get the very best out of both Ibrahimovic and Edinson Cavani in the same starting line-up?
 
The 27-year-old Uruguayan was the marquee signing of last summer, brought in from Napoli for a Ligue 1 record 64 million euros. He scored 16 league goals in his debut season but his campaign was hindered by injury and he was unhappy at being forced to play out of position on the wing because of the need to accomodate Ibrahimovic through the middle. Cavani said last week that he would be staying put despite suggestions he wants away. But he added: “It is important for an attacker to play in a position that is natural for him. Everyone knows what my position is and there is no point talking about it again.” If Blanc can solve the Cavani conundrum, then PSG may finally manage to get beyond the quarter-finals in the Champions League despite the limitations placed on them by UEFA.

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