by Aneesa Dastgir
The world of football is abuzz with the news of Neymar’s transfer from Barcelona to Paris St. Germain, with the French club having agreed to pay an eye watering amount of €222 million (£198m) in a record breaking transfer deal. Rumours arose in July that Neymar was planning to move to PSG and this month, it became a reality for many, not least Neymar himself.
PSG were excited at the prospect of Neymar raising the ranks of the club with his talent and, aged just 25, the Brazilian is in his prime and can take the pitch in his stride. Other players, such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, had been considered for the club, but with the Parisians thinking for the future, Ronaldo was crossed off due to his age as it simply wouldn’t make sense to take a 31-year-old on for 5 years. Messi has recently signed a new contract for Barcelona until the year 2021, so he was also booted (no pun intended) off the list. Therefore, Neymar really was the best choice for PSG.
The star’s wages are set to be earning him £40.3 million a year pre-tax. Users on social media have been quick to criticise the amount of money being thrown in the deal and around it, with many asking the most popular question surrounding football – why do footballers get paid an insane amount of dough?
The money itself is important, comparing it to other sporting stars across the world. Conor McGregor, has earned £26 million from two UFC matches in the past 12 months. Rory McIlroy signed a £80 million 10-year deal with Nike. In 2015, Lewis Hamilton signed a £100 million deal with Mercedes for three years. That really puts things into perspective and that age-old question posed above really makes one think – is there such a thing as a sport’s glass ceiling?
Speculation was rife within the past week, suggesting Neymar was unhappy at the club and that money prompted his move to PSG. However, the star spoke out and said in an interview with Sky News that:
“I was never motivated by money. It was never my first motivation. What I think about is happiness, I want me and my family to be happy. I must follow my heart and not consider the money. If I was following money, I might be in different team in a different country.”
Yet, as football fans, we can provide our own analysis as to why Neymar wanted to move. Information from Forbes’ profile on Neymar states that he is the only footballer to earn more from endorsements off the pitch than with his Barcelona contract. His sponsors include Nike, Gillette and Beats by Dre to name a few. PSG is already home to Dani Alves, Thiago Silva, and other fellow Brazilian players and perhaps Neymar felt that bond would help him.
Other theories are being circulated that Neymar knew he could never be the best player at Barcelona, being overshadowed by the likes of Messi. The upcoming Catalonia Referendum could have been a factor, with consequences for FC Barcelona if independence is granted. The Catalan giants would no longer be allowed to play in El Clasico – diminishing the biggest rivalry of Real Madrid vs Barcelona.
Furthermore, this deal has not been without controversy, which is normal in the world of sports. On Thursday, Javier Tebas, the president of La Liga, said that PSG were violating UEFA’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules and accused PSG of “financial doping”. For those that are unaware, FFP is designed to “improve the financial health of European club football.”’ UEFA states that clubs can spend up to €5 million more than they earn per assessment period (three years), preventing ‘unsustainable debt.’ Non-compliance can lead to warnings, fines and deduction of points, as well as many other penalties. PSG’s president, Nasser Al-Khelaifi, says those who are unhappy about the FFP situation should “go and have a coffee”.
Therefore, it can be said that football does not work without politics. PSG is owned and financed by Qatar Sports Investment, and for the past two months Qatar has been going through a diplomatic crisis with its Arab neighbours. Could this affect PSG in the long run? Perhaps. The president of France was not going to miss an opportunity to put his two euros in, with President Macron telling reporters that “[the transfer] proves that France remains attractive, so yes, it’s good news.”
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, meanwhile, has criticised the signing, saying that “once a country owns a club everything is possible and it becomes difficult to respect Financial Fair Play.” However, shouldn’t Arsene be looking at his own club and have a coffee?
With Neymar set to make an immediate impact at his new club, what can PSG supporters expect? His record at Barca was impressive with over 105 goals scored, two league titles, three Copa del Reys and being part of the leading trio (Messi, Suarez, Neymar). It will be interesting to see if he can perform to the standards PSG are setting for him.
Will this go down as the best or most regretted deal in the history of football?
Only time will tell.