The big transfer story of the summer is Neymar reportedly agreeing to join Paris Saint-Germain after the French club agreed to meet his €222 million release clause. After his performance in Barcelona’s 2-1 win over Juventus, it is easy to see why PSG are willing to break the bank for Barcelona’s boy wonder. A first half brace, including a superb second, stole the headlines. In typical Neymar fashion, the Brazilian picked up the ball on the left, before jinking and dancing past five defenders in the box, before firing low into the corner. Albeit a preseason game, it was hardly against an amateur defence. Rather, a defence regarded as one of the finest in the world, the majority of which reached the Champions League final twice.
As if Neymar Jr. needed any justification being one of the best players in the world, his astronomical price tag is another story. Following the game, Barcelona directors met with his father and agent, Neymar Sr. The meeting is rumoured not to have gone positively as Neymar’s father left the MetLife Stadium without comment.
A barrier in the way of the transfer is Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules. A transfer so massive will inevitably lead to sanctions for both clubs, if not blocked altogether. Investment groups, most notably Oryx Qatar Sports Investments, who are connected to PSG, are the most likely solution around FFP. A supposed loophole is the investment group providing Neymar with a personal sponsorship valuable enough for him to essentially buy himself out of his own buy-out clause, therefore not technically being bought through PSG. However, with UEFA cracking down on such loopholes, investment groups may well be a costly risk.
With numerous outlets stating that PSG have reached a personal agreement with the player, there is an eerie lack of communication from Barcelona’s senior management denying the claims. In fact, only a handful of players and the manager, Ernesto Valverde, are sure the 25-year-old will remain with the Blaugrana.
With Neymar preferring to do his talking on the pitch, Sergi Samper, Marlon Santos and Gerard Pique are the only players so far who have fought Barcelona’s corner, with the Spanish defender posting his support on Instagram, captioned ‘He stays.’
The contract offered is estimated to be worth up to €30 million (£26.9) per year, tax-free, excluding a bumper signing-on fee. This would place him in the top-three highest-paid players in the world, behind only the Chinese-paid duo of Carlos Tevez and Ezequiel Lavezzi, who earn £33 million and £41.5 million, respectively. Importantly, it would place him easily ahead of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, both of who earn less than £22 million in salary alone.
Neymar joined Barcelona in 2013 after becoming a sensation at Brazilian club Santos. The transfer fee was initially reported as €57 million. However, after the transfer was investigated, the fee turned out to be €86.2 million. As a result, Barcelona and Club President, Josep Bartomeu, were charged with tax fraud.
Neymar scored 20 and assisted 19 in 46 games last season, in all competitions. Overall for Barcelona, he has scored 68 in 123 appearances. He has also already racked up 77 appearances for the national team, scoring 52 goals at just 25 years old.