Thomas Meunier says Paris Saint-Germain are “obliged” to reach at least the Champions League semifinals this season because of the money that Oryx Qatar Sports Investments has put into creating a squad capable of European success.
PSG have spent big since their takeover in 2011, notably on Neymar and Kylian Mbappe this summer, and Meunier feels the last four of European football’s top club competition is a must.
“I will not go as far as to say that it is an obsession but when you see and know the quality that this squad possesses and the scale of the investment made by the club, I feel we must finish in the final four,” the Belgium international told Canal Football Club. “We are obliged to.
“PSG has reached either the quarterfinals or the last 16 these past few years and the goal is to go further than that — even if everything cannot happen in just a day. Chelsea, for example, struggled at the beginning [of Roman Abramovich’s reign]. For me, PSG are capable and possess enough quality [to win the Champions League] but everything needs to click at the right time as well.”
Meunier, 26, scored twice on Saturday to rescue a 2-1 win for PSG away at Dijon after an unconvincing post-international break performance from Unai Emery’s men.
Although he is primarily a right-back, Meunier has already racked up seven goals and eight assists from just 10 competitive appearances across all competitions for club and country so far this season.
The former Club Brugge man and his teammates will take on Marseille at the Stade Velodrome on Sunday after a quick return to his native Belgium to face Anderlecht in the Champions League on Wednesday.
But although Le Classique against Marseille remains Ligue 1’s most prestigious fixture, Meunier said that it is “nothing special” to many of PSG’s foreign stars.
“I have not heard it being especially spoken of, at least not within the squad,” Meunier said when asked about Marseille. “Social media there is a bit more [interest] — I think that the supporters are really at the forefront of this.
“For me, it will always just be one single match in the season against Marseille. However, as a squad, it is nothing special. There are a lot of foreign players in the squad and it is not the same to them [as it is to the French players].
“A big match? Yes. At the end of the day, we are aware of that. Last season, we won 5-1 in Marseille. The fans were at the airport and it was something crazy — you feel the importance that exists from that point of view. However, for us, foreign players playing in France, it is different.”
Meunier was also asked about teammate Hatem Ben Arfa, who has been informed by Emery and sporting director Antero Henrique that he does not figure in the club’s future plans.
Meunier stressed Ben Arfa’s “professionalism” and that he is still very much a popular member of the squad, despite his difficult situation at Parc des Princes.
“Hatem is somebody who is very professional,” Meunier said. “He has never created any problems, either within the squad or on the pitch at training. He knows that he needs to show a lot of bravery and patience to see out the remainder of his contract, if that is what he wants to do. Now, we all speak and laugh with him each day and he does well when he is with the squad — he is doing what he needs to do.”
Jonathan Johnson covers PSG and the French national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @Jon_LeGossip.