Leonardo returns to Paris Saint-Germain leaving Inter
Brazilian manager Leonardo has parted company with Inter Milan to take up the position as head coach for French side Paris Saint-Germain. It will be Leonardo’s second stint at the club, as he played for the side for a season in 96/7.
Inter’s chief executive Ernesto Paolillo briefed the press yesterday stating: "Leonardo is going to Paris and the club is looking for a new coach. We wanted to keep him but he has decided to leave us." Italian daily Gazzetta dello Sport had reported last week that the Brazilian held talks in Qatar with executives from Qatar Sports Investments, which owns a 70% share of PSG.
Leonardo had taken over at Inter from Rafael Benitez, after the Spaniard was sacked in December, having made a disappointing start at the club, which had won a historic treble the season before. The appointment was met with a certain amount of disappointment as Leonardo had spent the 09/10 season in charge of Inter’s great rival A.C. Milan, yet despite this and a disappointing finish to the season, which saw A.C crowned Serie A champions, Leonardo was seen to be a popular man at the club and won the Coppa Italia.
In joining PSG Leonardo finds himself at a club that has embraced Brazilian football in recent years. The playmaker Rai, younger brother of the Brazilian legend Socrates, joined PSG in 1993 from São Paulo, and became a favourite in the French capital. And during Rai’s time at the club PSG were considered one of the biggest sides in Europe, George Weah was their star player but the Brazilian flavour of the club blossomed, particularly when Leonardo himself arrived at the Parc des Princes. More recently the club was the first European home for Ronaldinho, it was where he cut his teeth in the European game. And last season the Brazilian winger Nene was named the clubs player of the season.
Leonardo’s move to PSG has sparked renewed optimism that the club can become a challenger in Ligue 1. Furthermore the prospect of investment for the clubs new, oil rich owners and the anticipation of Samba football have fans hoping the club will be able to relive the glory days of the mid-90’s.
Meanwhile Inter are left searching for their fourth manger in little over a year. With Fabio Capello reported to have turned down an offer and Fiorentina’s Sinisa Mihajlovic ruled himself out, the Chelsea linked Porto Coach Andre Villas-Boas appears to be the frontrunner now.