Paris Saint-Germain sporting director Leonardo resigns

The Brazilian was originally banned for nine months, but after he appealed against the decision, French football authorities increased the sanction to 13 months.

Updated: July 10, 2013 17:18 IST
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Paris: Paris Saint-Germain's turbulent close-season took another twist on Wednesday with the club announcing that sporting director Leonardo had resigned.

"The club management regrets this decision, but respects it," a club statement said, adding that the resignation would take effect from September 2.

"The club would like to take the opportunity to thank him for the remarkable work he put in to build in Paris a team that is now in the forefront of European football and wishes him every future success in his brilliant career."

Leonardo last week was banned for the entire new season for pushing a referee after PSG's 1-1 draw against Valenciennes on May 5.

The Brazilian was originally banned for nine months, but after he appealed against the decision, French football authorities increased the sanction to 13 months.

It means more instability and turmoil in a difficult off-season for the big-spending French champions who have already seen coach Carlo Ancelotti leave for Real Madrid.

The Leonardo-Ancelotti partnership was instrumental in attracting some of the biggest names in football to the Parc des Princes and the departure of the pair will do little to reassure the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva, both captured from AC Milan a year ago, that their long-term future lies in the French capital.

Ancelotti and Leonardo were crucial in convincing Italian-based players to cross the Alps, by using their extensive contacts in Serie A.

Italian Ancelotti had spent eight years coaching AC Milan following spells at Parma and Juventus, as well as remaining in Italy throughout his entire playing career, while Leonardo had a 13-year relationship with the Rossoneri as a player, scout, official and finally a year as coach.

Their contacts helped the French club raid Italy for the likes of goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu, defensive midfielder Marco Verratti, attacking midfielder Javier Pastore and forward Ezequiel Lavezzi as well as the two big-money star names from Milan.

With both now gone and Frenchman Laurent Blanc the new coach almost by default as PSG allegedly failed to secure the services of a host of preferred top names, the feeling of instability is palpable, not helped by the lack of a sporting director.

Former AC and Inter Milan coach Leonardo was named as sporting director at the Paris club in July 2011 after they were taken over by wealthy investors from the Gulf state of Qatar.

But now with a new power joining the French top flight in the form of Monaco, backed by billionaire Russian owner Dmitry Rybolovlev, PSG's status as the heavy hitters of French football is under threat, not to mention their quest to establish themselves permanently amongst Europe's elite.

Thiago Silva is purported to be a target for Spanish giants Barcelona while rumours persist that Ibrahimovic may feel his work is done in Paris and be looking for a new challenge.

Losing two of the bedrocks of last season's success, on top of the coach and sporting director, could land a savage blow to PSG's chances of building on last season and taking a leap forward in Europe's premier club competition, which must now surely be their aim.

The quarter-finals was a good achievement last year but the Qatari owners have not invested hundreds of millions to be known as a top eight European side.

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