Who is best choice to be PSG's project manager?

Posted by Jonathan Johnson

On Monday, The Telegraph in England reported that Arsene Wenger has been persuaded to leave Arsenal after 17 years to take over at Paris Saint-Germain. The following day the capital club had supposedly given up on their pursuit of the Frenchman.

But following Jose Mourinho's strongest hint yet that he will leave Real Madrid this summer after Los Merengues' Champions League loss to Borussia Dortmund, the wheel of speculation will no doubt start spinning once more as Les Parisiens look increasingly likely to be under new leadership next season.

-Arsenal chief dismisses Wenger report
-Marcotti on Mourinho's tenure at Madrid
-Mourinho gives more hints about future

PSG coach Carlo Ancelotti was reported last week to have announced his intention to leave the side at the end of the season to the club’s owners. If true, the Ligue 1 leaders have now reached a crucial moment in Qatar Sports Investments’ ambitious project.

Although it is not a foregone conclusion that Ancelotti will depart, it is looking increasingly probable. If he does, he would leave the club badly in need of direction. The rise of PSG over the last two seasons has been sensational, even if they were pipped to last season's Championnat title by an unheralded Montpellier side.

But to have been turned into Champions League quarter-finalists almost overnight is some achievement. That swift progress has largely been down to the superb work of Ancelotti. So if the Italian does quit, the club’s hierarchy and sporting director Leonardo need to seriously think long-term about where they want to take the club.

Any potential appointment of Wenger raises the question of philosophy. What is PSG's current philosophy given that they have now achieved massive growth relatively quickly? And, more pointedly, what do they want it to be in the future?

The friendship between the Gunners' manager and PSG owners should not be underplayed, but also don’t mistake it. The chances of Wenger turning a pre-scheduled business meeting on May 6 into a potential job interview before the end of a domestic campaign are slim to none. The rendezvous with Nasser Al-Khelaifi will almost certainly be done out of courtesy and solely on professional terms even if there is some temptation on Wenger's part given that the role may not be available come the end of his contract at the Emirates Stadium.

There also seem to be more reasons, on his part, to not take the job instead of declaring his interest.

First, the Frenchman appears unlikely to take charge at a club with a seemingly unlimited supply of money. Not least because it compromises his principles regarding the game that he has championed for so long, but also because he is highly unlikely to break a contract for the first time in his career. Also, does Wenger, 63, really have it in him to invest a long period of time into another project? And more important, will PSG have the patience that would allow him to rebuild everything from the ground as would no doubt happen?

It seems that, despite a late-season surge in form, Wenger is still fighting an uphill battle to get Arsenal back among the English Premier League elite. The chance to take over a club on the verge of becoming an elite European power must surely appeal. Wenger's strong view on the superior quality of French talent is also a big plus for the PSG hierarchy.

Wenger, though, would surely be a more suitable replacement for Leonardo as sporting director than for Ancelotti, despite the Frenchman admitting that he would miss the day-to-day routine of management should he make the move upstairs.

Mourinho, on the other hand, is a stellar name synonymous with success and the instant kind at that. Despite his constant professing of love for former club Chelsea, there has been plenty of speculation that PSG's owners would relish the chance to bring him in should the opportunity present itself. It appears that the time is now.

The Portuguese is a master motivator, a superb tactician and a brilliant man-manager, for the most part, and would be able to continue Ancelotti's sterling work in the short term. Arguably, his appointment is the only possible move that would enable PSG to keep some of the star names who seem to be at the Parc des Princes mainly because of their faith in a project led by Ancelotti. The likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva and Ezequiel Lavezzi would no doubt be swayed towards staying by an appointment of the calibre of Mourinho's more than that of a Wenger or any other potential French candidate.

That ability to help the club keep their stars may well be the most defining factor in any potential deal for the Real Madrid coach. But appointing Mourinho is hardly long-termism from PSG. The Portuguese has never stayed at a club for much more than three years, so although he might offer a chance of short-term success, there would likely be long-term negative consequences.

Plus, who is to say that Mourinho, or Wenger for that matter, would not resent PSG's owners and Leonardo getting involved in first-team affairs. That appears to be the main reason for Ancelotti's unhappiness in the first place.

Some of the other rumours in France have touted Real Sociedad’s up-and-coming French coach Phillippe Montanier as a potential replacement. There can be no doubt regarding the Frenchman’s bright future in club management at the highest level, but it is an overly romantic notion at this point.

Montanier would be a massive risk for the club, plumping for a coach who, although he is working wonders in San Sebastian, has limited experience particularly in Ligue 1 and certainly (with no offence to Sociedad, who have enjoyed an incredible season) has little experience managing some of the biggest names, and egos, in football.

PSG's best option surely is to pursue their rapidly diminishing chances of keeping Ancelotti who is the best man for the job at this time. Although it is not a long-term solution -- as he likely wouldn’t stay past one more season -- it would allow him to finish laying the foundations for his successor, who could then take PSG on to the next level, assuming the Italian can't next season.

Carletto's exit means that only a coach of equal calibre will enable the capital club to keep hold of some of their most prized assets such as Ibrahimovic and Silva. If he stays, it would crucially give PSG the time needed to identify the right successor.

Ancelotti's exit has the potential to take Les Parisiens' project back to square one, so any potential replacement must be decided upon with one eye on the future.

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