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May 27, 2017

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Big-spending PSG struggles for domestic dominance

PARI -- While Paris Saint-Germain's cash-rich Qatari owners proudly showed off their latest huge-money signing in Doha last week, the promise of riches on the playing field has yet to materialize for coach Carlo Ancelotti.

Despite being given the kind of unrestricted spending power most coaches only dream about, Ancelotti has failed to turn PSG into a force.

Signing Brazilian Lucas Moura from under the nose of Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson is a rare coup, but it does not distract from the reality that the club has struggled to turn its stable of thoroughbreds into a winning machine in the way other big teams do, despite an enormous outlay of more than 260 million euros (US$339 million) over 18 months.

Halfway through what was expected to be dominant league campaign, PSG leads Lyon and Marseille on goal difference — the worst margin among Europe's top five championships.

Juventus leads Lazio by five points; United leads Manchester City by seven; Bayern Munich is nine ahead of Bayer Leverkusen; and Barcelona is 11 clear of Atletico Madrid. Unlike in some of those leagues, PSG's rivals have spent hardly any money and have become selling clubs.

PSG's failure to win any trophy last season — having already spent more than 100 million euros (US$130.5 million) and leading by three points at the winter break — was too easily glossed over and the problems have spilled over into the current campaign.

"I've won trophies everywhere I've played and I hope that continues with Paris," said Zlatan Ibrahimovic, PSG's star player. "We've had a few problems with the way we've played recently, and that's shown in our results. When you lose, you learn much more than when you win. I just hope we've learned the lessons."

Another failure this season will heap embarrassment on a club desperate to be a leading European club, even though its domestic record of two league titles — the last in 1994 — shows it is not even France's best. Beneath the hype is the stark reality that Saint-Etienne has 10 league titles; Marseille has nine and won the Champions League in 1993; Nantes has eight; Lyon seven (consecutively); and Bordeaux six.

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