Leonardo, omnipresent sports director, polyglot but overprotective, good buyer but bad seller, is PSG’s first in the new cycle started by the extension of Kylian Mbappé, because he failed to fulfill the Qatari shareholder’s main contract: the champions win Liga .
The 52-year-old Brazilian was fired on Saturday evening during the celebration of the tenth league title, where he did not show up during the festivities. In short, seeing him leave may have been part of the celebration for Paris SG, who wanted to turn the page of a complicated season.
The face of the former PSG player-turned-manager is still associated with the incredible failure against Real Madrid, where the club collapsed in 17 minutes (3-1) despite a foot and a half into the quarter-finals. C1 final.
This disaster reinforced his recruiting policy, with many star purchases and few sales, and his excessive “cocooning” of players.
Since then, “Leo” has been sidelined on the big issue of extending Mbappe, taken over by President Nasser Al-Khelaifi, who successfully resisted Real’s advances. For the Qatari, it’s time to open a new cycle centered around “Kyky”.
However, the former 1994 world champion’s winger has already worked on PSG’s transformation under his two terms, from Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Lionel Messi.
First “DS” of the Qatari PSG, from 2011 to 2013, the elegant polyglot Brazilian had laid the foundation for the armada of the beginning, with first Javier Pastore, then “Ibra”, Thiago Silva, Marco Verratti or Marquinhos, the last two still always the pillars of the team.
The first term of “Leo” ended in turmoil. He resigned in July 2013 after being banned for nine months for a scuffle with the referee of a match against Valenciennes, Alexandre Castro, a sanction that was revoked a year later by the administrative court.
His temper may also have been stirred up in the corridors of Santiago-Bernabéu as UEFA launched an investigation into his and President Al-Khelaïfi’s attitude towards the referees.
When he was at the helm of Paris sports policy in 2019, he again managed to get some good shots on the transfer window, most notably superstars Lionel Messi and Gianluigi Donnarumma, who arrived free last summer. For now, the arrival of Messi, never at his level of seven-time Ballon d’Or, is a quack.
But the two biggest hits were made in 2017 without him, by Al-Khelaïfi himself and Antero Henrique: Neymar and Kylian Mbappé.
Internally, Leonardo has been criticized for being good at recruiting, but not at all selling, leaving PSG’s trade balance very unbalanced.
To cite just one example, the German Julian Draxler, who is offered almost everywhere every transfer window, is still there, with his generous salary, and he hardly plays. Or the extension last summer of Layvin Kurzawa, who did not play a minute in Ligue 1 this season.
The Brazilian, who knows all aspects of the trade as an international player, manager and coach, most notably at AC Milan or Inter, has also been accused of not being in favor of the players’ inclusion of brilliant center training in the first team. †
A protective manager
From Kingsley Coman or Moussa Diaby yesterday to Xavi Simons today, the best youngsters in the club often come from elsewhere.
PSG buy many stars, such as David Beckham, “bankable” players who sell fluttered jerseys to their credit, but sometimes at the cost of team building logic.
Symbolic of this policy that has enraged the ultras is the hapless Sergio Ramos, injured, who has only played 13 games since his arrival, and none of the C1.
Another accusation circulating in the corridors of the Parc des Princes or the Factory, the headquarters of the club, “Leo”, very protective of the players, contributes to isolating the sportsman, described by certain decision-makers as “an ivory tower”, from the rest of the structure.
This way of incubating the players may have contributed to their fragile minds, which burst as soon as Real raised their voices.
An example of this overprotection, season two of the documentary on Amazon (“PSG, Ô ville lumière, 50 ans d’histoire”) was a major disappointment at the club because we see too few moments-truths that normally make the richness of this kind of format.
“I want to protect the secret of the dressing room,” Leonardo explained to AFP to justify the exclusion of more intimate and more authentic scenes that ultimately contributed to the product becoming too slippery.
Available to the media, “Leo” was the voice of the club, as the chairman “Nasser” speaks little in public and Mauricio Pochettino mainly talks about the pitch and very exceptionally extra-sporting issues.
Leonardo helped build a team that rules France, but he leaves after five years’ reign, twice, because he didn’t win this European crown, PSG’s obsession.