Have the French champions had a positive or negative impact on Italian football?
With Paris Saint-Germain continuing their spending spree in Serie A with the signings of Edinson Cavani and Marquinhos earlier this week, has president Nasser Al-Khelaifi helped strengthen or weaken Italian football?
In June 2011, Leonardo resigned as coach of Inter in order to leave his managerial career behind to accept a directorial role at PSG. The Brazilian was given the reigns to the Parisian club’s activity in the transfer market and proceeded to raid Serie A of some its most gifted talents.
Having added the likes of Salvatore Sirigu, Jeremy Menez and Javier Pastore within the first few months of being handed his new role, it was clear that a pattern was emerging which would see the French giants use Serie A as their talent pool.
Twelve months on and their ambitions were increasing, Thiago Silva and Zlatan Ibrahimovic were plucked from AC Milan, while Ezequiel Lavezzi was seduced away from the passion of Naples by the bright lights of Paris.
There was even evidence of building for the long-term as Leonardo identified an individual who the Italian media portrayed as “the next Andrea Pirlo” in Marco Verratti, before Marquinhos joined this week to put in place the youthful class that will leave the club in safe hands for years to come.
While there is an obvious case to suggest that the Italian league has consistently lost its biggest names in recent years, what PSG have done is allowed these one-time giants of Europe to finally reassess their future plans.
Having sold their two most prized assets last summer, Milan are close to breaking-even ahead of the new season after significantly reducing their wage bill, while Napoli are expected to splurge in the transfer market this summer after receiving a staggering €64m for Cavani.
The top Italian clubs have suffered in recent times both on and off the pitch, but by sacrificing some of their best players they have opened the door for more home-grown and youth products to emerge and become stars of the future while simultaneously improving their financial health, a requirement that has been neglected for far too long.
There are few doubts over the competitiveness of the league domestically, with as many as six clubs harbouring hopes of a Scudetto in the new season, but perhaps where their weakness still lies is their inability to perform against their European counterparts.
Nevertheless, as Leonardo prepares to depart Paris following his suspension, while on paper both the Brazilian and Al-Khelaifi would appear to have stripped Italian football of its biggest gems, they have undoubtedly improved its future prospects having invested almost €280m into the league in the past two years.