Immense Pressure Builds as PSG Rounds Out Star-Studded Squad

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SAMEER AL-DOUMY / Contributor

Some are already calling the newly-dubbed MNM, or Messi, Neymar, Mbappe, as the greatest attacking trio in modern football history.

The trio have yet to take the pitch yet for Paris Saint-Germain but the expectations will be immense for a squad that has a chance to not only breeze through Ligue 1 in 2021/22 but will also be considered one of the favorites to take home the UEFA Champions League.

The Champions League, in particular, will be a huge defining moment for PSG -- who are just two seasons removed from reaching the final before losing to Bayern Munich.

The Parisians have gone out and put together one of the best individual transfer windows in the history of the sport, not only acquiring Messi, but also luring Sergio Ramos, Achraf Hakimi, Giorginio Wijnaldum and Gianluigi Donnarumma.

After falling short in Ligue 1 last season to surprise winners Lille, PSG have to regain their claim to the top of French football this season, and given the squad improvements at Mauricio Pochettino’s disposal there won’t be much room for error.

Coming into the new Champions League season, PSG boast the second-best odds to win the competition, only trailing Manchester City. Both teams are yet to hoist the UCL trophy and continue to be in a race against one another to bring it home.

What makes PSG’s situation so interesting though is the amount of pressure the club is putting itself into by bringing aboard a player of Messi’s caliber and stardom.

That’s not to say that current PSG stars like Neymar and Mbappe don’t register with the fanbase, but Messi is global. He’s one of the two biggest names in the sport and arguably one of the top in any sport.

With Mbappe’s contract situation still unresolved, it’s easy to imagine that the France international won’t re-up with the club unless there’s some kind of assurance that success will arise. Ultimately, that comes down to winning the Champions League.

The expectations for winning Ligue 1 simply aren’t enough for Mbappe as he begins to enter his next phase of stardom the way that Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo did in their early 20s.

The links to Real Madrid are strong and with Los Blancos not spending heavily this summer transfer window it’s almost certain that the club is going to splash major cash next summer in an attempt to get a player like Mbappe and put the club and La Liga back on the map.

For Messi, the reality is we don't know if PSG will be his final destination, but given his growing infatuation with Major League Soccer or a potential homecoming in Argentina at Newell's Old Boys, it's conceivable that the Argentine will play longer than his new contract dictates.

That said, Messi was a different player last year at Barcelona. Still productive, but his interest in the game declined.

He walked around the pitch more than he ever had previously. He wasn't engaged with his teammates. The weight of what was happening at the club became a lot to handle and understandably so.

In a significantly better position to succeed at PSG, is a 34-year-old Messi capable of flipping a switch and becoming that same Messi we've watched for over two decades?

Time will tell.

As has been the case with many well-known teams throughout football history, talent only gets a team so far.

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Aurelien Meunier - PSG/PSG via Getty Images

France were the reigning World Cup champions heading into the European Championships this summer and struggled throughout the competition. Meanwhile, Donnarumma and Italy brought home the trophy despite having missed that very same World Cup three years prior.

Ultimately, the success of PSG will come down to the club meshing on all fronts, especially the defensive end.

Hakimi and Ramos won’t get the share of the media or fan attention, but their presence will be crucial in how the season plays out, along with Donnarumma in net.

Ramos played less than half of Madrid’s La Liga matches last season due to injury and his relationship with center backs Marquinhos and Presnel Kimpembe will be massive in deciding how far PSG can advance.

No matter what the turnout though, the Parisians will undoubtedly be must-watch television every week and the storylines surrounding the club will be massive regardless of their match results.

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