It is precisely because they are working on a new training centre after Manchester City and Barcelona that Paris St Germain (PSG) are confident of doing a better job. One the club is confident will entice the “next Messi” to join. That is, of course, assuming the original version stays true to course and ends his playing time at Barcelona.
The new training centre is supposed to be operational by the start of the 2019-2020 season, said a club official here on Saturday, before coach Unai Emery took the stage to share his thoughts on Sunday’s ‘classique’ against Olympique Marseille at the Parc des Princes, PSG’s home ground.
“It won’t be right to speak about other clubs but I don’t think any club is looking to build one on the scale we are,” said the official.
The new training centre will come up in Poissy, some 20 minutes by car from Paris. It will be built on 74 hectares (nearly 183 acres of land and 65 football fields) and will have 14 football fields, including one full-length pitch that is covered,” said the official.
The idea of having a covered pitch came from the one at the Aspire Sports Centre in Doha, he said. It fit that with Qatar Sports Initiative (QSI) having taken over, the sports training in Doha centre would be promoted at Emery’s media interaction.
It will also have a stadium with 5000 seats for youth and reserve team games. “We are confident it will be an asset to encourage the next Messi to come over,” said the official half in jest. “There will be 32 luxury bedrooms and lounge area for the pros and 80 beds for the youth academy,” according to information in a media kit.
Getting the youth team together with the first team is a “seduction asset”, said the PSG official who didn’t want to be quoted as he is not authorised to speak to the media on this.
The way land was acquired for this centre is an example of getting all stakeholders on board. “That is why it took so long,” said the official.
The owners, nearly 100 of them, were got in touch by a local agency in Poissy whose mayor saw in the project as a means to give the region greater prominence, which, in turn, translates into economic uplift of the area.
“It will be a source of sporting, economic and social energy that will benefit the inhabitants of Poissy,” said mayor Karl Olive.
“Lyon recently built a stadium and are trying to get the right business model. We will do likewise,” said the official.
The initiative is privately funded. Asked about the budget, the official said it is not yet known but with QSI keen on making in a short time what top clubs in Europe took years to build, lack of funds is unlikely to be a constraint.
To all PSG’s Indian fans, the club will send Diwali greetings during Sunday’s game, it was learnt. The message will be displayed in English and Hindi.
The writer is in Paris on invitation from PSG.