Nasser was part of the Qatari tennis team in the Davis Cup.  (Photo: Marca.com)

Nasser Al-Khelaifi you have dreamed of this day a long time ago. Today the Paris Saint Germain open your fourteenth participation on the Champions League with a staff that is the envy of the entire planet. Neymar, Kylian Mbappé and the jewel in the crown: Lionel Messi. The president of the French club has changed the world order of football with the signings of the best players that may exist on the face of the Earth. All efforts have been made to place PSG at the top of world football, a mission entrusted to it a decade ago by the Royal Family of Qatar.

Born on November 12, 1973 in Doha, Qatar, Nasser bin Ghanim Nassida Al-Khelaifi, from a family of pearl fishermen, was a professional tennis player before becoming a soccer manager. He was a member of the Davis Cup team in his country and in the ATP ranking he reached 995th place. It was precisely through white sport that he met the man who changed his life: Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.

One day a young Nasser Al-Khelaifi, or NAKA, as his friends call him, saw a boy on a tennis court hitting a backhand incorrectly. He taught her how to do it and from then on they became great friends. That little boy was none other than Al Thani, a member of the Royal Family of Qatar.

Nasser was part of the Qatari tennis team in the Davis Cup. (Photo: Marca.com)

“I am six years older than him (Al Thani) and we met when he was eight, through tennis, as we used to play together. We have a great relationship ”, The PSG president today confessed during an interview with the English newspaper ‘The Guardian’.

After hanging up the racket, the Royal Family moved their influence and placed Nasser in the presidency of the Qatar Tennis Federation. Soon after, he became an honorary member of the Asian Tennis Federation. The Al Thani already gave clear signs of their trust in NAKA, but it was not until 2011 that they entrusted him with greater responsibility.

After acquiring 70% of the shares of Paris Saint-Germain, for 50 million euros, the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) fund appointed Nasser Al-Khelaifi as president and CEO of the French club. The task was only one: to make PSG the best team in Europe. And the path was marked by the great signings and the title of the Champions League.

Nasser bin Ghanim Nassida Al-Khelaifi
Age: 47 years
Profession: entrepreneur
Fortune: $ 16 billion
Among the 100 richest in the world
Companies: Al Jazeera Sports and 22 TV channels

Everything started with the ‘Flaco’

Installed in the chair of the PSG presidency, NAKA began to contact the representatives of the best players in the world. In the attempt, there were many who rejected his offer. The exception, in the 2011 repo market, was Javier Pastore. Coming from the Italian Palermo, and for 42 million euros, the ‘Flaco’ became the first ‘galactic’ of the City of Light signed in the era of Nasser Al-Khelaifi.

The Argentine was such a special signing for Paris Saint-Germain that he was the first Al-Khelaifi called when Lionel Messi arrived in the French capital. “Although I finally had nothing to do with it (in the signing of Messi), he told me that it was the first one he called. It made me very happy ”, said the Argentine in dialogue with Cadena 3 de Córdoba.

After the signing of Pastore, seeing big stars parade through Nasser’s offices became the daily bread in PSG. Thiago Silva, Lucas Moura, Ezequiel Lavezzi, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Marco Verratti, David Beckham, Edinson Cavani, Marquinhos, David Luiz, Angel di Maria, among others, were the following signings that forged the base of the team that to date is the absolute dominator of the League 1.

Pastore was Al-Khelaifi's first major signing at PSG.
Pastore was Al-Khelaifi’s first major signing at PSG.

Neymar, the most expensive of all

After a traumatic elimination in the knockout stages of the 2017 Champions LeagueAt the hands of Barcelona, ​​Nasser Al-Khelaifi realized that PSG needed better players to reign in Europe. The also owner of the channel beIN Sports had no better idea than to recruit the crack who was the executioner of his team in that Champions League: Neymar. For more than 200 million euros, PSG made the São Paulo forward their own after paying the termination clause to his Barça team.

In the same season as the arrival of Neymar, which was already the most expensive signing in history, PSG acquired the services of Kylian Mbappé, at that time considered the great promise of world football. With the Brazilian and French, the French team increased its superiority in Ligue 1, but the debt in Europe was still in force. Cracks like Mauro Icardi and Leandro Paredes also arrived, but the result was the same. The Champions was reluctant to reach the windows of ‘Les Parisiens’.

Neymar with the president of PSG, Nasser Al-Khelaifi, on the day of his presentation.  (Photo: AFP)
Neymar with the president of PSG, Nasser Al-Khelaifi, on the day of his presentation. (Photo: AFP)

Messi, the cherry on the cake

When everything seemed on track for the renewal of Lionel Messi’s contract, Barcelona surprised the entire planet with him announcement of his final departure. The Argentine was leaving the Camp Nou after twenty-one years, a situation that Al-Khelaifi was quick to take advantage of in favor of PSG. In less than 24 hours, the Parisians agreed with the Rosario environment the details of the transfer: two seasons, one more optional and a salary of 35 million euros for each one.

“I am delighted that Leo Messi has chosen to join Paris Saint-Germain. Led by our extraordinary coach and his coaching staff, I hope the team will make history alongside our fans from around the world. ” said the president of PSG in reference to the achievement of the Champions League.

Messi signed with PSG for two seasons, an optional one and a salary of 35 million euros.  (Photo: PSG)
Messi signed with PSG for two seasons, an optional one and a salary of 35 million euros. (Photo: PSG)

Al-Khelaifi’s 30 most expensive transfers

Eager to win the Champions League, Al-Khelaifi has spent more than 1,400 million euros since the Qatari sovereign wealth fund bought the club in 2011. Among them, 222 million to sign Neymar from Barcelona and 145 million for himself Mbappé, from Monaco.

PLAYER ORIGIN COST
Neymar FC Barcelona € 222 million
Kylian Mbappé AS Monaco € 145 million
Edinson Cavani Naples 64.5 million euros
Angel di Maria Manchester United € 63 million
Achraf Hakimi Inter de Milan 60 million euros
Mauro Icardi Inter de Milan 50 million euros
David Luiz Chelsea 49.5 million euros
Thiago Silva AC Milan 42 million euros
Javier Pastore Palermo 42 million euros
Lucas Moura São Paulo 40 million euros
Leandro Paredes Zenit 40 million euros
Thilo Kehrer Schalke 04 37 million euros
Julian Draxler Wolfsburg 36 million euros
Abdou Diallo B. Dortmund 32 million euros
Marks AS Roma 31.4 million euros
Ezequiel Lavezzi Naples 30 million euros
Idrissa Gueye Everton 30 million euros
Gonçalo Guedes Benfica 30 million euros
Grzegorz Krychowiak Sevilla 27.5 million euros
Yohan Cabaye Newcastle 25 million euros
Jesse Real Madrid 25 million euros
Layvin Kurzawa AS Monaco 25 million euros
Zlatan Ibrahimovic AC Milan 21 million euros
Pablo Sarabia Sevilla 18 million euros
Danilo Pereira Porto 16 million euros
Yuri Berchiche Real society 16 million euros
Keylor Navas Real Madrid 15 million euros
Lucas Digne LOSC Lille 15 million euros
Marco Verratti Pescara 12 million euros
Thiago Motta Inter de Milan 11.5 million euros
Before the arrival of NAKA, PSG was a mid-table team.  Their situation has changed so much that now they have Lionel Messi.
Before the arrival of NAKA, PSG was a mid-table team. Their situation has changed so much that now they have Lionel Messi.

The Champions League, now or never

In the field of Brujas, PSG begins to write a new history. At the Parc des Princes they hope that the ending will now be happy after two seasons in which they touched continental glory. In 2020, the Parisians lost the final to Bayern Munich and a year later they fell in the semis against Manchester City. With Messi, Neymar and Mbappé, the outlook is more favorable, although football is sometimes capricious and does not understand either cracks or millions.

“We have the responsibility and the pressure, but we are also the ones who have the opportunity to be part of history, to live this experience and we are going to enjoy it”, Mauricio Pochettino admitted in an interview with the website about PSG’s favoritism in this Champions League.

The tennis player who changed the world order of football and insisted on the Champions League dreams of seeing PSG lift the ‘Orejona’ on May 28 in Saint Petersburg. That way, he can say “mission accomplished” to the Qatari Royal Family and his racquet partner, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.

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