Significant changes needed at PSG if things are to ever change
Just under a week after a 6-1 thrashing at the hands of Barcelona at Camp Nou, the dust still has not settled on Paris Saint-Germain's traumatic exit from the UEFA Champions League.
As revealed to ESPN FC by a source close to the Ligue 1 giants, the French capital outfit have written to UEFA to complain about referee Deniz Aytekin's dreadful officiating in Catalonia. Although there is no hope of a replay, a sense of injustice prevails around Parc des Princes.
It will take much more than a 2-1 win away at FC Lorient in Le Championnat for the players to truly get over what happened against Barca but the narrow victory at Stade du Moustoir last Sunday was a start at least.
Regardless of what happens after UEFA receive PSG's lengthy letter, what is clear is that significant changes are required if Les Parisiens are to recover from this setback.
Last week was an enormous disappointment but the bigger failure was arguably still the two-legged loss to Manchester City the year before, when the team was at its peak under Laurent Blanc and failed to perform in either match.
Many have been quick to point the finger of blame at coach Unai Emery for the Barcelona debacle but they should be reminded that the same tactician masterminded a 4-0 first-leg home win that was arguably more impressive than the controversial 6-1 victory produced by Luis Enrique's men.
The former Sevilla boss has also reinvigorated goal machine Edinson Cavani and done a very good job of promoting the best youth academy graduates to the senior squad, such as Adrien Rabiot, Presnel Kimpembe, Christopher Nkunku and Alphonse Areola.
Yes, the Barcelona collapse was shocking and yes, PSG have not had it all their own way domestically this season. However, there have still been enough small positives for a case to be made for Emery to keep his job into the next campaign -- at least for now.
The most pressing issue for Qatar Sports Investments (QSI) to address post-Barca is the alarming lack of character within the capital club's ranks. Influential figures like captain Thiago Silva and third in command Blaise Matuidi went missing at Camp Nou, while Thiago Motta and Maxwell were both spectators.
Aside from Cavani, who was the only member of the PSG starting XI who stood up to be counted for in Spain, and substitute Angel Di Maria, tough questions can be asked of the group after their surrender.
The likes of Rabiot, Kimpembe, Nkunku, Areola, Marco Verratti, Marquinhos and Layvin Kurzawa, while all enormously talented, showed they still have a long way to go mentally.
Kurzawa should have undergone surgery on a troublesome groin injury months ago as it has been impairing him for a long time now but otherwise, those youngsters need to take the experience of this episode and build on it to become stronger characters.
Recent arrivals Thomas Meunier, Julian Draxler and Goncalo Guedes also fall into the young and relatively inexperienced bracket too, but would not -- realistically -- have been told to move on this summer.
Instead, two of the players who might be asked to leave Parc des Princes at the end of the season might be vice-captain Thiago Motta and mercurial playmaker Javier Pastore.
As two of the club's longest-serving players, though, and the fact that neither were truly involved over either leg against Barcelona, Emery's men arguably still need them.
Although he is no longer the physical force he once was, Motta is still a brilliant tactical mind and communication remains another strong point. Pastore, on the other hand, has recently demonstrated in Marseille and Niort that his world-class creativity still has a place in Paris.
What might actually serve PSG better is removing the burden from skipper Silva's shoulders -- he has not been the same player since the 2014 FIFA World Cup on home soil -- to allow the Brazil international to concentrate on being the excellent player and organiser he is, so that Motta can take over.
Cavani is another candidate for the armband but Motta still possesses more experience than the Uruguayan international and is not as softly spoken as El Matador.
That said, the former Napoli man is a tremendous example to his teammates and his work rate is inspirational -- like some of his goals.
Maxwell would be another candidate for the captaincy but the veteran left-back's character would arguably be of better use as part of the coaching staff after he finally started to show signs of aging earlier in the season.
The list of players to no longer persevere with has become much clearer over the past few weeks and at the head of it must be Serge Aurier. A brilliant right-back on his day, the Ivory Coast international just has too much baggage and PSG need players with greater basic professionalism.
Lucas Moura and Kevin Trapp both showed in Barcelona that they do not possess the required quality to help the team get to where they want to go either, while Grzegorz Krychowiak has been a casting error from the start and Blaise Matuidi has illustrated he might have overstayed his usefulness.
It would be harsh to show winter arrival Giovani Lo Celso the door when he has not been given a chance and it was a PSG mistake to not loan Jean-Kevin Augustin out last summer and the player's error to reject a January loan move. Both need to be playing regularly next season, whether that is in Paris or not.
An experienced sporting director could solve many of these problems -- the responsibility between current incumbent Olivier Letang and director of football Patrick Kluivert remains unclear -- but nobody will take charge.
That fact perhaps best illustrates that it is up to QSI to make some bold decisions at the top of the hierarchy -- perhaps as high up as Chairman and CEO Nasser Al-Khelaifi -- before working their way to address the dead wood on the pitch.
Jonathan Johnson covers PSG and the French national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @Jon_LeGossip.