The first time I read about the transfer rumour linking Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain, I laughed it off. It felt like another crazy and ludicrous suggestion which would never come true. Like your “Cristiano Ronaldo is upset at Real Madrid and wants a Manchester United return” narrative or a “Lionel Messi wanted by Chelsea and PSG” by some outlets for three straight summer transfer windows. But as it picked up, from reliable sources close to the respective clubs, the earlier seemingly laughable proposition started to become seriously like in the last two weeks. There was the ambiguous Instagram post by Neymar suggesting he was hard at thought over the move, then came Gerard Pique’s “se queda” (he stays announcement) and one thought maybe it will die down with the pre-season gathering pace. But after some lull, this past week has been full of activity from both sides and media has had plenty of role to play in keeping the fire going.
The question remained, though, what would he go for? Surely with his talent, marketability and already built up status, he was going to shatter the previous most expensive signing record created by Paul Pogba when he moved to Manchester United from Juventus for 105 million Euros. If reports are anything to go by, Barcelona made it clear that they won’t be negotiating for a fee but asked for PSG to cough up his release clause – a cool €222 million.
As it reached Thursday evening, PSG had, remarkably, got the deal done in just over a day. Talk about circumventing the protests by La Liga authorities and getting the job done – for world’s most expensive football deal – in such quick time and for that the officials inside Parc des Princes deserve to be applauded (keeping the FFP debate aside for now).
Let’s rewind the story a bit and look at the most expensive transfer deal from a different perspective. When Real Madrid shelled out €94 million for Cristiano Ronaldo in 2009, there was both shock and awe when he stepped up to the pitch at the Bernabeu with thousands in attendance. And three years later, the Spanish club loosened their purse strings even further to bring Gareth Bale from Tottenham by making him the first three-digit-transfer in Euro terms. But then it became an easier prospect to fathom with Pogba’s €105 million switch. Bale’s transfer almost made Pogba’s transfer in 2016 ‘understandable’.
And now there is Neymar with his €222 million deal – an astronomical 122% rise in the previous transfer record. In fact, it is the biggest jump since 1903 when Ben Green moved from Barnsley to Small Heath for £500, beating the previous record of £100.
Now let’s address the biggest question – one with most far-reaching effects – what does it mean for the transfer window? Well, nothing. Neymar to PSG for €222 million is possibly a once in a lifetime thing or a major mistake by the French club. If you were to consider the valuation in some other terms, Neymar’s transfer is equivalent to Pogba-plus-Bale and you’re still left with money!
But unlike transfers for other big players at other big clubs, not all players would be acquired for their payout clause. It is a rarity and should be treated as such. You won’t expect an Alexis Sanchez deal – were it to happen – to take place for such big sums and it is understood for all involved. Let’s drop down further to middle-level clubs such as Levante in Spain or Southampton in England, the Neymar transfer won’t force them to spend more on signing a midfielder in the future. Yes the clubs spend more now than they did in the past but that is basic economics – if you have the money, more windfall, you will end up using it. One can safely assume that this Neymar deal is an unusual circumstance, a one-in-a-decade (perhaps) situation and the amounts of transfer business won’t be seriously affected by it.