Paris Saint-Germain’s search for a record-breaking 11th top flight title begins with an away game against Clermont Foot on Saturday night.
From his very first press conference as PSG manager, Christophe Galtier’s strict demand for discipline was evident, as he noted “all the players were on time today.”
With punctuality clearly a key factor, here’s the first Ligue 1 XI Galtier may choose from a squad with more glitz than his favoured grit.
Gianluigi Donnarumma (GK) – Despite playing less than half the available Ligue 1 minutes, Donnarumma managed to wrap his gloves around the division’s goalkeeper of the year award last season.
Sergio Ramos (CB) – The defender with a “striker’s soul” – in his own words – demonstrated that lethal touch with an audacious back-heel to kick off a season which can only be an individual improvement for Ramos.
Marquinhos (CB) – They say Paris is the City of Love, a cliche Marquinhos wholehearted subscribes to after meeting his wife Carol Cabrino in the French capital. To complete the schmaltzy tribute, he even proposed under the Eiffel Tower.
Presnel Kimpembe (CB) – Galtier literally laughed off rumours linking Kimpembe with a move to Chelsea over the off-season.
Achraf Hakimi (RWB) – The former forward at youth level recorded his worst goal-scoring season in three years last term.
Marco Verratti (CM) – Last weekend’s 4-0 romp of Nantes earned Verratti his ninth Trophee des Champions title (the French equivalent of the Community Shield). No club, other than PSG, has ever won the trophy as often as Verratti.
Vitinha (CM) – The Portugal international managed just five Premier League starts during an anonymous loan spell with Wolverhampton Wanderers in 2020/21 before luring PSG into a purchase as an integral cog in Porto’s title-winning team last term.
Nuno Mendes (LWB) – The only Parc des Princes defeat Mendes suffered across his entire debut season at PSG was orchestrated – via penalties – by his new manager, the former Nice coach Galtier.
Lionel Messi (RW) – The legendary Argentinian has more Ballon d’Or awards (seven) than Ligue 1 goals (six) after a year in France.
Kylian Mbappe (ST) – No player in Europe’s top five leagues directly contributed to more goals than Mbappe last season (a sickening 45 – 28 goals, 17 assists).
Neymar (LW) – The mercurial Brazilian scored his first Ligue 1 hat-trick since 2018 against Clermont last season.