BARCELONA (Reuters) - Paris St Germain coach Unai Emery believes the soccer world should be grateful to the nouveau riche clubs like his and Manchester City for shaking up the game and threatening the dominance of Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona.
La Liga president Javier Tebas has threatened to denounce the two teams, backed by the royal families of Qatar and Abu Dhabi respectively, to the European Union for their financing methods, comparing PSG’s record-smashing 222 million euro ($272 million) signing of Neymar Jr. to “peeing off the diving board”.
PSG also beat Barca and Madrid to the signature of French teenage sensation Kylian Mbappe, who joined the Paris club last year and will become the second most expensive player behind Neymar when he completes his move from AS Monaco in June for 180 million euros.
“Madrid and Barcelona wanted Kylian, but PSG have the muscle to keep him at a French club and I think the transfer happened for sporting reasons and not financial ones, and that’s something new in this new European order,” Emery told Spanish newspaper Marca in an interview published on Thursday.
“The (traditional) clubs see their kingdom under threat (from PSG) and (Manchester) City, who are a team with new-found financial capacity. I think this is good for football, that there are these new teams. Everyone should be grateful.”
PSG have an 11-point lead at the top of Ligue 1 and play faltering European and Spanish champions Real Madrid in a blockbuster Champions League encounter next week.
Emery thanked the club’s owner Nasser Al-Khelaifi for allowing them to follow Barca and Real’s example in breaking the bank to sign players who are among the world’s best.
“I always remember this with Real Madrid, the signing of Zinedine Zidane, Cristiano Ronaldo, James Rodriguez. And Barca did it, too, paying Rivaldo’s release clause, and we are now seeing this financial capacity in France,” Emery added.
“I think that’s good for this country, which should be grateful to the investment from Qatar for making sure the best players come here.”
($1 = 0.8172 euros)
Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by David Goodman