Paris Saint-Germain chairman and chief executive, Nasser Al-Khelaïfi, has expressed his delight at the return of Leonardo as the club’s new sporting director on June 14.
The deal bringing the former PSG and AC Milan midfielder back to the role comes within an hour of the club and erstwhile sporting director, Antero Henrique, parting ways.
“I am really happy to come back to Paris Saint-Germain once again,” said Leonardo on the club’s website after signing his contract. “This club has been so important to me in my football career and in my life.”
🗣 "ANNOUNCE LEONARDO!"
— Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_English) June 14, 2019
The 49-year-old added: “I had really emotional moments here both as a player in the late 90s and more recently as sporting director along with our chairman Nasser Al-Khelaïfi on my return to the club in 2011. Today, I come back to Paris full of energy to rejoin this club that I deeply respect.”
“It is always a special moment to see Leonardo return to Paris Saint-Germain,” said PSG chairman, Al-Khelaïfi. “’Leo’ has a place in our club’s history and we all know the role he played as sporting director at the start of our project.”
The Qatari billionaire added: “His return, with his enthusiasm and talent, will bring the club into a new ambitious cycle and I am sure that this reunion will bring happiness to the Parc des Princes, which has always kept ‘Leo’ in its heart.”
A former Brazilian international, winner of the 1994 FIFA World Cup and 1997 Copa America, Leonardo joins Paris Saint-Germain for the third time.
As a player, Leonardo signed for the club in the summer of 1996, making 46 appearances for the club and scoring 10 goals.
In that time, he played a part in PSG getting to the European Cup Winners’ Cup Final in 1997 for the second year in a row.
Leonardo ended his playing career at AC Milan in 2003, where he later became sporting director (2003-2009), coach (2009-2010) and once again sporting director (2018-2019).
In July 2011, Leonardo rejoined PSG as sporting director and went about laying the foundations for the club’s new project following the takeover by Qatar Sports Investments.
This began to reap fruits as the Parisian club ended a 19-year wait for a league title by claiming glory in the 2012/13 campaign ahead of fierce rivals, Olympique Marseille.
However, success on the pitch was tainted by controversy off it as Leonardo received a nine-month ban from football activities in May 2013 after being accused of pushing a referee at the end of a game against Valenciennes.
The ban was later extended to 13 months in July 2013, leading the Brazilian to tender his resignation that month and eventually leaving the role in August 2013.
Leonardo’s ban was overturned in June 2014 by the Paris Administrative Tribunal, while he became AC Milan sporting director in July 2018.
He left the Serie A giants on mutual consent at the end of the 2018/19 football season, paving way for his return to PSG.
Leonardo’s return to Paris brings back memories of his first spell during which he oversaw the signings of Carlo Ancelotti as manager.
He was also instrumental in the deals that brought in players such as such as Jérémy Ménez, Mohamed Sissoko, Salvatore Sirigu, Javier Pastore, Thiago Motta, and Marco Verratti.
Will Leonardo’s return to the French champions see the club become more formidable in Ligue 1 and put up a stronger challenge on the European front?
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