Taking expensive to the next level

Footballer Neymar unveiled as PSG player

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he footballing world was turned upside down when the buzz that Neymar Jr wanted to leave Barcelona came afloat. I mean, they easily had the best strike-force in the world with the Brazilian, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez. It seemed only a matter of time before the ‘MSN’ trio would conquer the world.

But football is a business and a rather funny one. The Neymar transfer saga is the perfect example of just that. More than getting pulses racing, it’s raised questions aplenty. Why would a player of Neymar’s stature and calibre want to leave arguably the best team in the world?

Let’s address the more pertinent topic in the saga. How did PSG decide that 220 million euros was the price they would pay for Neymar, effectively doubling the current most expensive transfer fee?

We’re not just talking the most expensive footballer of all time; we’re talking a flamboyant personality and a magician with his feet who cost more than a quarter of a billion dollars. That’s Paul Pogba plus Cristiano Ronaldo with enough left over to cover their wages until Christmas!

In his entire time at the Catalan giants, Neymar has always played second fiddle to Messi, although for stretches during the league, the former has often looked the better player by far. The Brazilian is all about the flare. He likes to be the man-in-charge, a prima donna so to say. At Barcelona however, he wasn’t allowed that freedom like he had with the national team.

Not that PSG is any less though. With the likes of Edinson Cavani, Angel di Maria, Marco Verratti and Javier Pastore, the Parisian giants have their own ‘Galacticos’, but Neymar is a far bigger star than them all, and that’s including Julian Draxler, Lucas Moura and Hatem Ben Afra. At PSG, he’ll be the captain of the ship, a role that the lanky striker thrives on.

PSG are not new to making popular, expensive signings. One can’t forget their 2012 signing of Zlatan Ibrahimovic. They made up his transfer fee and much more in the form of four straight league titles and quarterfinal finishes in the Champions League.

Zlatan raised the bar quite high and Neymar will directly be compared with him. Zlatan may have put PSG on the superpower map, but Neymar would need to ensure they become champions of Europe for his signing to be defined as a success.

For Barcelona though, it’s more of a psychological setback than a footballing one. It’s the third time a buyout clause has been used by a rival club. First it was Inter Milan with $27 million for the original Ronaldo. Then in 2000, Real Madrid made off with Luis Figo for $74 million.

Read the full article by subscribing to the print magazine or the digital edition.