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Where are they now? The 12 wild signings Unai Emery made for PSG

Unai Emery was once tasked with making Paris Saint-Germain a European powerhouse before becoming a household Premier League name, and his signings during that era were extremely interesting.

Quietly one of the most difficult managerial jobs in football right now, sitting in the dugout at PSG is a lot harder than it seems on the surface.

Sure, there’s a near enough infinite supply of cash, but there’s also a changing room full of extremely well-paid footballers and an unrelenting pressure to deliver the Champions League – a trophy which the club has never won.

Emery spent two years in the hot seat in the French capital, taking the job in 2016 and leaving in 2018, winning a domestic quadruple in his final season before taking over at Arsenal. He made 12 signings in Paris – here’s where they are now.

Hatem Ben Arfa

Following an unexpected yet glorious career revival at Nice, PSG moved quick to snap up Ben Arfa for free in the summer of 2016.

He scored on his debut for the club, but was used mostly as a rotation arm and left in 2018 to sign for Rennes. Despite a brief spell in Spain with Real Valladolid, the rest of his career has been played in France.

Ben Arfa isn’t technically retired, but hasn’t had a club since leaving Lille under heated circumstances in 2022 and is now playing Padel instead. Best part is? He’s really blood good at it. Hatem Ben Arfa hasn't officially retired from football, but he's busy flexing his arm at another sport.

READ: Remember Hatem Ben Arfa? He’s busy conquering the world at another sport

Grzegorz Krychowiak

Following Emery from Sevilla to PSG, Krychowiak had developed a reputation as one of the most underrated midfielders in Europe and was attracting the interest of plenty of clubs. Les Parisens parted with €30million to secure his services, inking a five-year deal.

He endured a nightmare first season, however, with one of very few starts coming in the 6-1 defeat against Barcelona, and was shipped out on loans to West Brom and Lokomotiv Moscow in the following years.

The Polish midfielder signed for Lokomotiv permanently in 2019 before moving to fellow Russian side Krasnodar in 2021.

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022, he made use of FIFA regulations and suspended his contract to move away and currently finds himself in the Saudi Pro League with Abha, aged 34.

Thomas Meunier

Signing Meunier for just €7million in 2016 proved very shrewd business from Emery and PSG.

The Belgian full-back fluttered between first choice and rotation, but made 128 appearances in four years before leaving in 2020 on a free transfer for Borussia Dortmund, having won three Ligue 1 titles.

He joined Turkish Super Lig side Trabzonspor in February 2024.

Giovani Lo Celso

A then 20-year-old Lo Celso set PSG back just £8.5million in the summer of 2016. He remained at Rosario Central on loan until the following January and quickly bedded into the side.

In the same summer that Emery departed, however, he was moved onto Real Betis who signed the Argentine on loan with an option to buy which was triggered in April 2019. That August, he was then signed by Tottenham.

Now 27, Lo Celso has found a way back in at Spurs under Ange Postecoglou after spending time on loan at Villarreal and looking surplus to requirements.

READ NEXT: 6 players PSG must build their future around after Kylian Mbappe’s departure

TRY A QUIZ: Can you name every player to score 5+ Champions League goals for PSG?

Jese Rodriguez

Jese lasted just six months in the French capital after signing from Real Madrid for around €25million before returning to La Liga on loan with Las Palmas.

That loan to Stoke followed, as did temporary spells at Real Betis and Sporting CP. Jese has been everywhere since including to Turkey and back to Las Palmas, but is now plying his trade in Brazil with Coritiba at the age of 31. Pretty cool.

Julian Draxler

Despite the media insisting for years that Draxler would sign for Arsenal, he did not. Instead, he joined PSG from Wolfsburg in January 2017.

Draxler’s career in Paris started strong and for the first few years his performances continued to earn him links to Arsenal, but as the years went by and managers changed, he fell out of favour over time and left following a loan at Benfica in 2022-23.

The 30-year-old German is currently playing in the Qatar Stars League with Al Ahli. We reckon he’s still got a transfer to Arsenal in him. NEYMAR (PSG) and Robert LEWANDOWSKI (M), action, duels, left Thomas MUELLER (MÃ ller, M), right Philippe COUTINHO (M) Soccer Champions League, final, Paris St. Germain (PSG) - FC Bayern Munich (M) . 0: 1, on August 23, 2020 at the Estadio da Luz in Lisbon/Portugal.

TRY A QUIZ: Can you name PSG’s XI from the 2020 Champions League final defeat to Bayern?

Goncalo Guedes

A busy – and somewhat expensive – month saw PSG also sign Guedes in January 2017, prizing him away from Sporting CP for €30million.

He was only in Paris until September, when he was loaned to Valencia before making the switch permanent a year after joining PSG.

Guedes eventually joined Wolves in 2022 and is still on the books at the Premier League side, but has been out on loan at Benfica and now Villarreal since the beginning of 2023.

Yuri Berchiche

Spanish left-back Berchiche only spent one season in Paris, but played 32 times before leaving in 2018 to sign for Athletic Club.

The 34-year-old has been there ever since, and while he’s had struggles with injuries in the last few years, he’s made 21 appearances in La Liga this season at the time of writing and weighed in with three goals and two assists from full-back.

Dani Alves

Alves signed on a free transfer from Juventus in the summer of 2017.

The Brazilian was found guilty of rape in February 2024 and sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison. It was reported in March that he had been released from prison on a €1,000,000 bail.


The signing that rocked the world of football forever. Nobody could quite believe it happened, even after Neymar had been pictured holding aloft a PSG shirt as a £200million player.

His world record fee is yet to be beaten and, while people were quick to label Neymar a failure for not delivering PSG the Champions League they hoped he would, he finished up at the club with 118 goals and 77 assists from just 173 games, which is absurd considering he had lumps kicked out of him every week.

Still, though, no matter how joyous he was and no matter how good his stats look, his legacy in Paris will – rightly or wrongly – be judged by the European honour he never won with the club and the Ballon d’Or that has subsequently alluded him.

Watching him move to Al-Hilal in the summer of 2023 – and then be ruled out for the season with an ACL injury – has been a very sad sight.

TRY A QUIZ: Can you name the 25 most expensive transfers of all time?

Kylian Mbappe

In the same summer that PSG smashed the transfer record for Neymar, they also prized Mbappe away from Monaco, initially on loan before finalising a £166million deal the following summer.

You can see why Emery’s job became rather impossible.

Mbappe’s story doesn’t need retelling. A World Cup winner and PSG’s all-time scorer with 246 goals and counting, he’s set to finally leave for Real Madrid in the summer of 2024 on a free transfer, with Les Parisiens finally accepting defeat after delaying the inevitable with a ridiculous two-year contract.

Seeing the 25-year-old finally don the white of Real Madrid will be surreal. The hard work starts then.

Lassana Diarra

Emery’s final signing as PSG boss came in January 2018, the club snapping up veteran midfielder Diarra from Emirati outfit Al Jazira.

Just over a year after he joined PSG, his contract was terminated by mutual consent and Diarra announced his retirement.