PARIS (AP) — Paris Saint-Germain wanted an experienced central defender with leadership skills to shore up its defense after losing eight games and the French title last season.
So, the club went for Sergio Ramos, handing the former Real Madrid captain a two-year contract at the age of 35.
Ramos arrives a year after a bitterly disappointed Thiago Silva left the club, at the age of 35, after talks over a new deal for him collapsed. He had wanted a similar deal, but PSG was reluctant to offer it given his advanced age.
Somewhat ironic, then, that PSG has signed Ramos.
Perhaps it would have made sense to keep Silva, who joined Chelsea last summer and won the Champions League — the trophy that still eludes PSG.
Ramos has won it four times. Silva’s last game for the club was in the 2020 final, which PSG lost 1-0 to Bayern Munich.
PSG reached the semifinals of the competition last season, losing to Manchester City. The route to the semis came after a complicated group stage and then entertaining knockout matches against Barcelona and Bayern Munich.
PSG’s best player throughout was arguably Keylor Navas. He made key saves to keep his side from going out of the group stage and was outstanding against Barcelona and Bayern.
His reward for a superb season?
PSG signed Italy’s European Championship-winning goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma. He was given a five-year contract and his arrival on a free transfer after running out his contract with AC Milan.
It seems like a big coup for PSG.
But it may also create tension, because Navas proved last season that he is among European soccer’s best goalies.
The 22-year-old Donnarumma was voted Euro 2020’s best goalie, and he is 12 years younger than Navas — so clearly could become a major player for a long time at PSG.
But it still seems unfair on Navas, given that it was largely because of him that PSG stayed in contention so long before losing the title to Lille on the last day.
Ramos knows him well, too, having played five seasons with him at Madrid.
When PSG opens its campaign away to promoted Troyes next month, it will be interesting to see who wears the No. 1 jersey and how the No. 2 will react.
PSG’s other main signing of the season is right back Achraf Hakimi.
The 22-year-old Morocco international joined for a reported fee of 60 million euros ($71 million) after helping Inter win the Italian title. He was widely considered the best fullback in Serie A and his foraging runs, passing skills and eye for goal will benefit PSG.
Hakimi scored seven goals last season and should complement left back Juan Bernat, who is a similar type of player and an excellent crosser of the ball.
The major question, however, is whether these three signings are enough to persude striker Kylian Mbappe to stay.
The 22-year-old France star is out of contract at the end of the season and, unlike teammate Neymar, he has yet to commit to a new deal. He has been linked with a move to Madrid for several months.
Mbappe netted a career-high 42 goals in the last campaign, and his departure would be a huge blow.
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports