Lionel Messi to PSG: Transfer shows difference in men's and women’s strategy

Lionel Messi

PSG’s capture of Lionel Messi exemplifies the lengths the club are willing to go in the pursuit of success. But is a similar model being adopted by the women’s side, or has the motivation to invest in the team been lost?

The Parisian club ended Lyon’s 14-year reign of irrepressible league dominance last year –– winning 20 of 22 league games and going unbeaten in the process.

The side also beat Lyon in the Champions League quarter-finals, crushing the French giants’ hopes of a sixth consecutive European title.

Much of the reason for this success is because of long-term investment from the club since the Qatar Sports Investments group took over in 2011.

The owners have spent big since then –– continuously improving the squad, training facilities and even moving to the 20,000 capacity Stade Jean-Bouin stadium.

Last season was therefore the culmination of a decade-long journey. Yet, there is an increasing sense that now this success has been achieved, things are grinding to a halt.

Consider the response of Lyon to their underwhelming campaign last season. So far, they’ve brought in Daniëlle van de Donk from Arsenal and further showcased their intent by raiding three players from their Parisian rivals.

These include promising Danish forward Signe Bruun and defender Perle Morroni. The biggest steal, however, is goalkeeper Christiane Endler –– singled out by Chelsea boss Emma Hayes as the best shot-stopper in the world.

Lionel Messi

Meanwhile, PSG’s transfer window has been far less enticing on paper. Former boss Olivier Échouafni, who guided the team to league glory last year, has left the club after being refused more control over transfer policy.

New boss Didier Ollé Nicolle has arrived, and while the club have made some signings, none appear to be players who will elevate the side to greater heights.

Defender Sakina Karchaoui has joined from Lyon, as has the accomplished Swedish centre-back Amanda Ilestedt from Bayern Munich.

But overall, letting your arch-rivals pinch one of your best players in Endler is not the PSG way.

The Chilean goalkeeper has suggested her reason for leaving is because she wanted to join a team that shows more interest in their women’s players –– a damning indictment for a side who are the reigning league champions.

Christiane Endler for PSG

When you consider the approach to the men’s team, the women’s transfer policy becomes even more perplexing. Prior to this season, the club boasted the likes of Neymar, Kylian Mbappé and Ángel di Maria.

Yet, this was not enough for a side competing to be an unbeatable European force. Consequently, in have come Messi, Sergio Ramos, Georginio Wijnaldum and Gianluigi Donnaruma. If there is a world-class player available, then you can only assume PSG will sign them.

This model does not translate on the women’s side though. The team finally tasted success last year but do not appear to be continuing to push.

A 5-1 friendly defeat to Lyon last week emphasises this point. Some may argue that a friendly is not necessarily indicative of form or potential, but it nonetheless proves that Lyon have made improvements and have a desire to bounce back after such a miserable season.

Ultimately, it appears there are currently different visions for the two sides. For the men, the aim is to buy their way to building a dynasty, whatever the cost. For the women though, it is now a case of trying to repeat their heroics with what they’ve already got.

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