How PSG tried to sign Pele in 1971

Paris Saint-Germain are used to chasing the world’s best players these days. They own the two most expensive players of all time after paying a combined €402m for Neymar and Kylian Mbappe over a 12-month period between 2017 and 2018.

But PSG are what you describe as nouveau riche compared the rest of Europe’s biggest clubs.

The vast majority of their success has come in the last 11 years since being bought by Qatar Sports Investment, a subsidiary of the gulf nation’s sovereign wealth fund.

PSG are also a fairly young club as it is, only formed as recently as 1970. But they have seemingly been ambitious since day one.

Having started out in France’s second tier in 1970, PSG quickly earned promotion and were a top flight club by 1971. And it was then that they went as big as you can go, attempting to bring the best player in the world to French football.

PSG went for Pele when he was a year removed from winning his third World Cup with Brazil.

Club president Guy Crescent was the man with the plan. In the wake of Pele’s sad passing this week, Crescent’s son Bruno has explained the story to PSG.fr.

“My father told us that he was going to travel to Brazil. We asked him why, and he told us, ‘I’m going to try and get Pelé,’” he explained.

“Santos needed money. As PSG didn’t have much of its own, my father’s idea was to tell them that there was a fixed-price fee to loan the player out as well as interest that would be paid depending on stadium attendance, and he came back from his travels very happy and very confident.

“When some journalists questioned him about it after he had come back from Brazil, he said, ‘I’m bringing Paris its second Eiffel Tower.’”

Former PSG striker Michel Prost claimed that Pele was pretty close to agreeing to it as well, insisting he only ‘changed his mind at the last minute’.

Pele himself spoke a number of times over the years about the opportunities he had to leave Santos, where he played from 1956 until 1974. Other options at various times included Real Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester United throughout the 1960s. But he always insisted he was happy to stay with his boyhood club until leaving for the United States much later.