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Putting the pride back into PSG: Qatari owners aim to be world's best

updated 4:58 AM EST, Thu March 1, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Paris Saint-Germain president tells CNN he wants to make club biggest in the world
  • Nasser Al-Khelaifi in charge of running club after Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani's takeover
  • PSG are coached by former AC Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti and are second in French league
  • Al-Khelaifi says it is the aim of PSG's owner to attract the best players in the world

(CNN) -- The president of Paris Saint-Germain says fans of the French club have overcome initial reservations about their new Qatari owners and have bought into their mission to make PSG the biggest team in the world.

Nasser Al-Khelaifi told CNN World Sport that his vision for the club centers around attracting the finest players on the planet to ply their trade in the French capital and turning PSG into a profitable enterprise.

Currently led by former AC Milan and Chelsea coach Carlo Ancelotti, PSG are in contention to win their first Ligue 1 title since 1994 and are close to securing their dream of competing in the European Champions League.

So can PSG conquer the footballing world and become as big as Spanish and European champions Barcelona?

Paris Saint-Germain's main players: From left to right, general manager Leonardo, coach Carlo Ancelotti and president Nasser Al-Khelaifi. Paris Saint-Germain's main players: From left to right, general manager Leonardo, coach Carlo Ancelotti and president Nasser Al-Khelaifi.
PSG's main players
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Putting the pride back into PSG Putting the pride back into PSG

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"This is our strategy to bring PSG on long term to be one of the biggest in the world," he told World Sport anchor Pedro Pinto.

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"We are not saying we are going to be the best club in the world, because it's really tough; you've got history behind other clubs in the (English) Premier League or Spanish or Italian leagues so we are going to try and make it.

"For us, of course, with the passion of football you know we love football, we love Paris. Paris is a great city and it's really that Paris deserved to have a big club in the world and that's why we came to Paris and bought PSG.

"In the beginning some of the people for sure, they were against us but now I believe most of them or all of them they are with us, supporting us and PSG. Honestly I am so proud today of where we are."

Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani bought a 70% share of PSG through his Qatar Sports Investments company in June 2011 and installed 38-year-old Al-Khelaifi as president.

The ex-tennis professional recruited Leonardo as general manager and the Brazilian World Cup winner wasted little time in utilizing the new wealth at his disposal to splash a reputed $57 million on Argentina midfielder Javier Pastore.

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Another signal of the club's intent to make waves in Europe came with their failed pursuits of Manchester City's Argentina striker Carlos Tevez and former Manchester United and Real Madrid star David Beckham.

This is our strategy to bring PSG on long term to be one of the biggest in the world
Nasser Al-Khelaifi

But despite the vast sums of money being spent, Al-Khelaifi insists it is a long-term target of PSG to make the club profitable, and recruit players from the pool of young talent available in the French capital.

"That is our strategy," he said. "In five years we want to make money -- also you know we love football, we came to Paris as I said to be one of the biggest clubs in Europe.

"You know, our advantage for sure it's Paris, it's the capital, twelve million people live in and around Paris, you have got a lot of talented kids around Paris.

"You know the best French players come from Paris. If you see Thierry Henry, (Lilian) Thuram, Nicolas Anelka you know it's really worth it to look for them and look for the new (Lionel) Messi. Why not from Paris?"

But for now, the immediate target is to end the club's 18-year wait for the French league title, and the lucrative rewards it would deliver in terms of a Champions League place.

"It's going to be great in this stadium to see us playing against Barcelona or Real Madrid," Al-Khelaifi said. "This is one of our dreams."

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