Philipp Lahm labels Qatar’s multi-billion investment in PSG a political success but a football failure
Paris St Germain's billion-euro investment may have paid dividends on the political stage for owners Qatar but the team is disappointing and bland despite superstars Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe, former Germany captain Philipp Lahm said on Wednesday.
Lahm, a 2014 World Cup winner who now is Euro 2024 tournament director, was vitriolic in his criticism following PSG's 3-0 aggregate loss to Bayern Munich in the Champions League last 16 earlier this month.
"You feel for the many PSG fans who came to Munich (for the return leg on March 8). Their hopes that something could come together dies every year anew," Lahm said in a column for German newspaper Die Zeit.
PSG have never won Europe's premier club competition and have made it to the final only once, in 2020, despite their expensive signings in recent years, that also include Brazil forward Neymar.
PSG owners Qatar Sport Investments (QSI) have spent more than €1.5billion in transfers since they took over in 2011.
"Qatar invests millions in PSG. Politically the strategy works but on the sporting level the team is a disappointment," Lahm said. "The club remains a bland experience."
He said France international Mbappe, a world champion in 2018, was not hitting his full potential there.
"His talent is not being integrated (in the team)," Lahm said. "In Munich he was merely waiting for the ball to fall to his feet. I am missing any imagination on how Mbappe's career shall be made to blossom."
Lahm, who lifted the World Cup in 2014 with a 1-0 win over Messi's Argentina, also had few kind words for the Argentina captain who led his team to the 2022 World Cup title in Qatar.
"Messi is integrated in the Argentina team just like Mbappe in the France team. All for one and one for all. But his abilities (in Munich where PSG lost 2-0 on March 8) were being deployed with no reason or target. Messi was helpless and desperate."
PSG look set to win another French league title this season but are unable to find success in Europe, lacking stability and a club culture that has helped teams like Real Madrid, Liverpool and Bayern to establish themselves as continental powerhouses.
"Politically the investment in PSG may have been worth it," Lahm said. "The owners, the country of Qatar, has used Paris and Europe for its own security policy and geopolitics, including its players. Such is the world.
"But football is different. Big teams, which identify with people, develop in a process. This can only succeed through cooperation, solidarity and community. These are the values of Europe but not of PSG."
Reuters has approached PSG for comment on Lahm's assertions.