PSG arrive in Sweden looking to finally focus on coming season

Posted by Jonathan Johnson

Ligue 1AllsportZlatan Ibrahimovic will hold talks with Paris Saint-Germain.

Paris Saint-Germain arrived in Stockholm on Monday without their three new star signings, but Les Parisiens finally have Zlatan Ibrahimovic back with the squad after a disrupted first few days of pre-season training.

How much of a blessing that is, as PSG attempt to finally focus on the upcoming season with the majority of their work in the transfer window now done, we will see.

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The towering Swede was offering little in the way of reassurance though when he faced the media ahead of Tuesday's clash with local second-division side Hammarby IF.

"I need to speak with [PSG president] Nasser [Al-Khelaifi]; I need to sort some things out" he said regarding the transfer speculation that has surrounded him this summer.

"I need to talk to the club about what they want and what I want. Both must be happy."

Those "things" in question are believed to be some of the more mundane variety, something that every player takes care of at the start of a new campaign, including the player's accommodation.

But Ibra has also, thus far, failed to commit his future to PSG the same way that Thiago Silva has attempted to do so in light of intense speculation linking him with a move to Barcelona.

It is ironic after so much upheaval this summer, including the departures of coach Carlo Ancelotti and sporting director Leonardo, that PSG should be faced with the Italian's new club Real Madrid so soon.

The French champions cap off their tour of Sweden by facing their former coach in Gothenburg on Saturday, but by that point, speculation over Ibrahimovic's future will likely have intensified again.

Particularly as the Spanish giants are the side credited with the strongest interest in signing the 31-year-old.

So far it has been a disrupted pre-season for last season's Ligue 1 winners.

The players have been returning to action sporadically after heavy involvement in the Confederations Cup, senior internationals, Under-20 World Cup and now Under-19 European Championship. Although the latter will have the least impact with only Adrien Rabiot a notable absentee, it has given Laurent Blanc no chance to have his entire squad assembled together thus far.

Late returns for Silva and want-away defender Diego Lugano, who arrive mid-camp prior to the Real Madrid clash, means there is precious little time for 'Le President' to even get last season's squad together, let alone add his new recruits.

The cancelled friendly with Napoli that was originally scheduled for next week, part of Ezequiel Lavezzi's transfer package, but was axed for security reasons after Cavani's move to PSG, hardly helps.

'El Matador' will arrive in Sweden in time to watch his new team-mates in action but take no part, meaning his first taste of football in Parisien colours will come in the Trophee des Champions in Libreville.

The Ligue 1 season's annual curtain raiser travels to a different country every year, but this summer's showpiece in Gabon is hardly the ideal setting to experiment with Ibra and the Uruguayan for the first time.

That's not even mentioning how Blanc then intends to introduce other new arrivals Lucas Digne and particularly Marquinhos, who has no prior experience of French or European football, to the fray before the new campaign starts.

Less than one week after playing together against coach Blanc's former side, Ibrahimovic and Cavani will be expected to lead the line in Montpellier as the champions kick-off their title defence.

Sweden's most celebrated talent in recent history also appeared to suggest that he is under no pressure to adapt to his new strike partner.

"I've never played with Cavani so he will adapt," said Ibrahimovic. "He will get to know the team, city and fans. Cavani is a good reinforcement."

While in Scandinavia, it is clear that Ibrahimovic is running the show. From arriving separately to the team at the club's hotel of choice in Stockholm, having travelled there directly after Mark Van Bommel's testimonial match last week, along with Gregory van der Wiel, to conducting all of the player press conferences, PSG's tour of Sweden was designed to accommodate their talisman.

That in itself, as well as Real Madrid president Florentino Perez "reassuring PSG fans" that Los Blancos have no plans to sign any of Blanc's current players, should be a minor relief to the PSG fans that last season's star man is going nowhere fast.

But before the side from the capital can get too settled, it appears that a number of departures are imminent. Kevin Gameiro to Sevilla looks almost certain and could be completed before the tour of Sweden is even mid-way through, and Clement Chantome could also depart mid-camp.

Hardly ideal then for Blanc and PSG as the team struggles for time to get familiar with one another before Ligue 1 action recommences. But one positive is that now with the likes of Ibrahimovic, Lucas Moura and Salvatore Sirigu back in the fold, the Frenchman can finally start to experiment with his new ideas for the coming season.


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