PARIS: After a week in the Paris Saint-Germain hot-seat Spanish coach Unai Emery unveiled three new signings on Monday (Tuesday in Manila) as he told fans to forget the past and focus on the future.
PSG’s star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic signed with Manchester United on Friday after bagging 51 goals last season, but dazzling dribbler Hatem Ben Arfa, Belgian international defender Thomas Meunier and holding midfield general Grzegorz Krychowiak have all joined since Emery took over.
“We start from zero,” the 44-year-old said as he met the French press for the first time at the Ligue 1 champions’ Parc des Princes on Monday.
“Zlatan in Paris. That was beautiful. I had something similar at Sevilla,” said Emery, who won three Europa League titles at Sevilla.
“But what happened in the past is over.”
“Now we focus on the future and I’m happy and proud to be here,” added Emery, who explained in Spanish that his recruitment drive was more or less complete.
“Edinson Cavani has an enormous opportunity now to become a massive attacking reference,” Emery said of the Urugayan striker, who joined From Napoli two seasons ago, but who struggled to shine alongside Ibrahimovic.
Meanwhile club president Nasser Al-Khelaïfi promised the new coach would assure the continued success of the French champions.
“Our main objective is to go as far as is possible in the Champions League,” he said. “What Laurent Blanc achieved was great. But I decided to change, to start a new cycle with a new coach,” he said, after agreeing a generous severance package with the outgoing coach two weeks ago.
Ben Arfa was as dramatic as Emery when his turn in the press spotlight came.
“A year ago I was unemployed, now I’m at one of the best clubs in the world,” said the 29-year-old former boy wonder whose career nosedived when he fell foul of a FIFA ruling two seasons ago and spent a year on the sidelines.
“This is sheer happiness,” he said.
“I can go up a whole new level here,” the former Lyon, Marseille and Newcastle forward said.
PSG also fought off rivals across Europe to snap up giant Belgian international defender Meunier from FC Bruges
The 6ft 3in (1.9m) right-back, 24, who featured twice for Belgium at Euro 2016, has signed a four-year deal for an undisclosed fee.
“I’m honoured to have been chosen by PSG, with all their great players,” Meunier, who has 12 Belgium caps, told his new club’s website.
Poland international Krychowiak signed a five-year deal on Sunday for a fee of 26 million euro ($28.9m) after also quitting Sevilla where he was an Emery favorite.
“To continue working with Unai Emery obviously played a part in my choice. I’m coming to Paris to experience strong emotions and to win as many trophies as possible,” the 26-year-old said.
Al-Khelaïfi said he was “very satisfied” with the signing. “These past two seasons, he was very efficient with Sevilla, in particular on the European scene, and he was one of the most prominent players in the Euro (2016).”