With each passing year, zeros continue to get added to football’s transfer tales. This summer the saga is unfolding in France, where Paris Saint Germain is relentlessly pursuing Neymar, Barcelona’s Brazilian superstar. They’ve offered the Spanish club $258 million, approximately Rs 1,655 crore, to buy the striker. If the deal goes through, it would make Neymar the most expensive player in the world and five times costlier than the club itself. By the time agent fees and taxes get settled, PSG would’ve paid close to half-a-billion dollars for their Neymar dream. From this deal, the 25-year-old forward is expected to earn Rs 4.20 crore per week, excluding the commercial deals. To put the “zeros” in perspective, listen to this: Neymar transfer fee will be more than India’s annual sports budget and his quarterly earnings would surpass the country’s annual football spend.
These are dizzying figures even by football’s inflated standards. European football’s governing body, UEFA, has a system in place that prohibits clubs from spending more than what they earn. But the suits in the boardroom know the ways to circumvent rules. The clubs, players and their agents often justify these astronomical sums by arguing that an athlete’s shelf life is short. The defence might have held ground a decade ago, but not today. These are times when Roberto Carlos, at 42, was paid a million dollars for a three-month job in the Indian Super League. China, USA and Qatar offer fatter pay cheques.
In case Neymar does travel to Paris, this will be certainly be his last tango. The XXL price tag effectively prices him out of any possible future move. The colossal CTC would also weigh heavily on him. From having his face on the billboards to his name on the back of t-shirts, the marketing sharks will look to squeeze every ounce of marketability. In March, Neymar scored twice, earned a penalty and set-up a late winner against PSG as Barcelona completed one of the greatest comebacks of all time in the Champions League. In a PSG t-shirt with a price tag of $258 million on it, the unforgiving fans will expect such shows every time he has the ball at his feet.