The big stars still have a few days off, but at least a small group of professionals is expected this Monday at Camp des Loges, Paris Saint-Germain’s training center. The French champions are about to start training, a good opportunity to present the new trainer right away after saying goodbye to the previous head coach Mauricio Pochettino because of the negotiations about his severance package had been complicated.
The club had long since agreed with the successor: Christophe Galtier, 55, was in turn poached from the OGC Nice, for which the Qatari financiers of the capital club reportedly had to dig deep into their pockets – the transfer fee should have been around ten million euros . And Galtier’s post on the Côte d’Azur went to former Gladbach and Dortmund coach Lucien Favre, who had coached Nice between his two Bundesliga engagements.
Since PSG’s end in the Champions League round of 16 against Real Madrid, it had become apparent that Pochettino would no longer have a future in Paris. Speculations ran rampant that Zinedine Zidane should be the 1A solution for his successor. The excitement was high, especially among the supporters of Olympique Marseille. It shouldn’t be that her “Zizou”, born in the Provence metropolis and club saint of OM, goes to PSG, the absolute archenemy. All false alarms, allegedly there had not even been contact between PSG President Nasser Al-Khelaifi and Zidane, who is now considered the logical successor to France national coach Didier Deschamps after the World Cup in winter.
Like Zidane, Galtier hails from Marseille – yet he has always emphasized his sympathy for Olympique’s arch-rivals PSG
The man who is now taking over what is probably the most difficult dressing room in world football to moderate comes from Marseille: Christophe Galtier started playing football at the small club Caillolais, which produced numerous later professionals, including Eric Cantona. Galtier came to Olympique at the age of 16, he matured into a youth international and Ligue 1 long-running favorite. Despite numerous changes, Galtier has always emphasized that he remained a passionate Marseillais.
And yet he never made a secret of his admiration for his archrival. Before the 2020 Champions League final in Paris against FC Bayern (0: 1), for example, he called himself the “first supporter of PSG”. A view that not many Marseille fans may have shared, but Galtier insisted: “I am a supporter, really a supporter of Paris and of Thomas Tuchel”, the coach at the time.
Galtier is a shrewd tactician – as a coach and also in dealing with the public. He also manages to fuel his career in the media. After the championship title with Lille 2021, he turned down a number of requests, including from Italy and England, and ultimately went to OGC Nice. Galtier made it clear to reporters that he no longer had any ambitions for a foreign engagement. It was different four or five years ago. “But Ligue 1 is my championship, I feel good there and I see this league developing positively.”
An allusion to the fact that more and more international investors are joining the clubs – and stars like Neymar or Messi are now playing in France. He always treated both with respect, although it’s quite possible that he won’t see the former at PSG anymore, as the club reportedly want to get rid of Neymar because of his lack of professionalism. It might make Galtier’s work a little easier, but there are plenty of other strong characters in the squad, take Sergio Ramos, Marco Verratti or Kylian Mbappé, whom Galtier always praised from afar – possibly not without calculation.
Last season, Galtier kept a clean sheet with Nice in three games against PSG
Galtier is closely associated with Ligue 1, having played almost 300 games himself as a player, not only for OM but also for Lille, Toulouse, Nîmes and Angers; as a coach he was Alain Perrin’s (Sochaux, Lyon) assistant for many years before he led St. Etienne from the bottom of the table to fifth place and to the League Cup victory in 2013. The success earned Galtier the Best Coach of the Year award, which he shared with then-PSG coach Carlo Ancelotti.
In 2017 he went to relegation candidate Lille and formed a congenial duo with sports director Luis Campos, whom he now meets again at PSG and whose preferred candidate he is said to have been. Together they created the team around goalkeeper Mike Maignan, captain José Fonte, Renato Sanches and goalscorer Burak Yilmaz that snatched the title from Paris in 2021.
Meticulous work, rigor and the ability to instill immense confidence in the players is what defines the coach Galtier. And so billionaire Jim Ratcliffe brought him to Nice a year ago. He couldn’t quite live up to expectations, surprisingly lost the cup final against Nantes, narrowly missing out on the podium in the league and only moving into the Conference League with fifth place. But Galtier managed another feat: he not only remained undefeated with his Niçois in three games of the season against the attacking artists of PSG, but even kept a clean sheet (0:0, 1:0 in the league, 0:0/5:4 after penalties in the cup).
It is quite possible that Galtier can work more calmly in Paris than his predecessors. In any case, the conditions are better than for Unai Emery, Tuchel and Pochettino, who were constantly at odds with their sporting directors, simply because of his trusting relationship with sporting director Campos. And while Olympique Marseille may also unveil a new coach this Monday – Croatia’s Igor Tudor will replace Jorge Sampaoli – all eyes in France should be on Paris when Christophe Galtier makes his PSG debut.