PSG progress report: Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe, Neymar off to a strong start under Christophe Galtier

In addition to a solid start, PSG is showing signals that even better things are yet to come as the team continues to gel.

After defeating Olympique Lyonnais 1-0 on the road in Ligue 1 on Sunday, Paris Saint-Germain enters the September international break in a dominant position. The 2022–23 season has gotten off to a fantastic start, with 10 victories from 11 games played in all competitions and an undefeated record—with the exception of a tie against AS Monaco at home in Le Championnat.

With a Trophee des Champions championship already locked up at the start of this season, PSG is at the top of the domestic tree and leads their UEFA Champions League group together with SL Benfica. Since the Argentine arrived in the summer of 2021, Christophe Galtier has Neymar, Kylian Mbappe, and Lionel Messi in their best collective form.

The unsettling fact is that there is still room for development despite the promising beginning. The most recent transfer window left sporting advisor Luis Campos unsatisfied since Inter Milan’s Milan Skriniar, a top target who was not acquired, was not signed. Additionally, the defense is not yet impenetrable since it has allowed at least one goal on five different times across all competitions, including the first two continental matches.

Galtier, however, is downplaying some of the Argentinean’s troubles in comparison to Mauricio Pochettino’s previous campaign, and PSG are now poised for a solid finish to club play before the FIFA World Cup at the end of this year. With 33 goals combined, Neymar, Mbappe, and Messi stand out ahead of the event being hosted by Qatar.

Even while Les Parisiens haven’t played their most fluid soccer in every match this season, they certainly appear significantly different and more convincing than in prior campaigns. In UCL Group H, the pivotal forthcoming doubleheader with Benfica will be revealing in terms of the French capital club’s aspirations for Europe.

Looking a little harder at some of the minor drawbacks, PSG’s Ligue 1 record shows only two points dropped, with road losses to Lyon and Lille OSC and a Monaco tie that did not hurt their chances of an undefeated season. Both of those victories—the one against OL on the road and the one at home over Stade Brestois 29—came in quick succession after the start of Champions League play.

The only real drawback at this stage is that Galtier’s team lacks a little depth in some positions, with central defense being a particular worry now that Presnel Kimpembe is injured. Due to the latest injury sustained by the France international, Danilo Pereira must move out of midfield and make captain Marquinhos and a revitalized Sergio Ramos important.

The business this summer hasn’t completely satisfied me, Campos admitted to RMC Sport last week. “We bargained for other defenders as well in addition to Skriniar. But because we didn’t sign them, we are now missing a crucial component. Although achieving perfection is challenging, we constantly strive to come as close to it as we can.”

The only real drawback at this time is that, if missing out on Skriniar or another defender was a setback, Campos can look back with great satisfaction on Vitinha’s early midfield success. The international player from Portugal has undoubtedly made the strongest first impression at Parc des Princes so far and has complemented Marco Verratti well.

The fact that the Frenchman is mostly successful with essentially the same starting XI as his predecessor Pochettino, with the exception of Vitinha, may be the most revealing indicator of Galtier and Campos’ dual impact so far in Paris. Apart from that, Galtier has assisted in bringing out the best in Messi and Neymar while also revitalizing Ramos, which seemed unattainable for much of last season.

It hasn’t been flawless, and there have been some hiccups along the way, like the tense dynamic between Neymar and Mbappe at the start of the current season and Galtier’s remarks about PSG flying by private plane igniting some domestic dissent. Although it is relatively mild in comparison to what we have witnessed in the past, consistency is a welcome change.

The Le Classique at home against longtime rivals Olympique de Marseille, which is currently a top two clash, will come after the home game against Benfica in mid-October, which appears to be the most crucial period of this season thus far. After those two matches, we should know more about the direction that Galtier’s PSG team might take after the World Cup.