Why Neymar to Paris is bigger than 200 million bargain?

The Neymar transfer may look like a huge money affair which would change the current European transfer market paradigm, but there are many different dynamics involved. This transfer can have colossal impact on three different nations and change the course of the game in coming years. Tamas Sinha at Goalden Times tries to measure the impacts beyond money.

A French Revolution

When Zlatan Ibrahimovic arrived at Parc des Princes in 2012, French domestic league had five different winners in last five seasons. New owner Nasser Al-Khelaifi brought Carlo Ancelotti in the mid-season of 2011, and the results were already visible. Although a miraculous run by Montpellier saw them clinch their maiden title ahead of Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), they were already the strongest contenders for the throne next year. PSG was never shy of buying world-beaters with ridiculous amount of money. Along with the Swedish superstar, came Thiago Motta, Thiago Silva, Marco Verratti, Ezequiel Lavezzi, Lucas Moura and Gregory van der Wiel. The impact of the foreign players  was imminent, but the intention was very clear from the Qatari owners, and it was not only French dominance. With one of the strongest line up in Europe, they won four back–to-back league titles and made it look so easy. French league was past its glory days, the challenges were not up to the level. It’s a fact that even a 34-year-old Zlatan scored 38 league goals in his last season alone. PSG were always up for the next challenge which was conquering Europe and subsequently, the world. Their performance in the Champions League had tremendous improvement in last few years and undoubtedly escalated them to one of the dark horses to lift the crown. What they lacked was probably the finishing job, after a fine start, complacency crept in and the bigger and experienced sides took advantage of their vulnerability to outsmart them.

Neymar transfer
Neymar arrives at Parc des Princes [Source – goal.com]

Although Monaco managed to dethrone them from their French perch, reclaiming the dominance is not their goal anymore. The earth-shattering deal insures three things –

  1. 1. The French football would revolve around Paris again for the next few years
  2. 2. No more the dark horses, the current PSG squad along with Neymar will be one of the favourites to win the Champions League title next year
  3. 3. The market value of Ligue 1 and PSG will increase exponentially. And with a growth in viewership and market value, French domestic football may re-establish their lost glory days

The squad is already experienced enough in Europe, and Neymar gives them the ultimate edge which could bring them their much elusive continental glory. The victory could change the face of the French football with PSG and Monaco leading the way. As Neymar rightly said after joining PSG, “I came over here to make history”, the targets are already set for him and he’s aware that this team has the perfect supporting cast as well.  If PSG manage to conquer Europe in coming years, this deal would eventually eclipse Maradona’s Napoli transfer in terms of individual impact and 220 million would look like a steal.

Changing Colours in Spain

Barcelona had dominated La Liga for last one decade, and the law of averages say a turning of table is inevitable. Since the appointment of Zinedine Zidane, Real Madrid have never looked back. Zidane’s team have the best midfield in the world at this moment along with a bench-strength matched by none. And with the best striker of this generation, they not only conquered Europe but also deposed MSN from their throne at the peak of their game. This is the time, when Barcelona were planning to recover from Real’s knock-out punch and they lost their most dependable asset of coming years. Barcelona’s management had the vision to sign Neymar as the successor of the Argentine magician, and he was destined to replace Messi in coming years, but Messi himself made the choice difficult for everyone. Even in his thirties, he’s still the most lethal player in Blaugarana colours, and Neymar, despite having the best season of his Barcelona career, remained in Messi’s famous shadows. He was labelled as a prodigy in Brazil since his teenage, he even brought back the Copa Libertadores to Santos after 48 years, so it is safe to presume that he’s personality demands a certain level of excellence, and the choice to be the king in his own jungle had been very obvious from the start.

It is safe to presume that he’s personality demands a certain level of excellence, and the choice to be the king in his own jungle had been very obvious from the start

Barcelona cannot find a like-for-like replacement of Neymar in this market, neither could they replace Messi if he had left. So, the management did not have a lot of options here and decided to stay faithful to the Argentine. Now, Barcelona may have a bag full of money after selling Neymar, but money doesn’t play, so what options do they have at this moment? After seeing Neymar’s departure why would players like Eden Hazard or Paulo Dybala be interested in joining the sinking ship of the Catalonian giants? Yes, they might lure Liverpool’s Coutinho or Borussia Dortmund’s budding superstar Ousmane Dembélé with some ridiculous fees, but none of them have the capability to fill Neymar’s boot in this team. And although both Messi and Suarez individually have abilities to change the colour of the league, their challenge would be against the very best in the world. Seeing Barcelona’s ageing midfield at this moment, any pundit would predict that Madrid will definitely be running away with all the glory again, while Barcelona’s take away will be Messi’s goal-scoring celebrations as their consolation. So, beside the inflated market, this deal will only hurt Barcelona who have appointed their fourth manager in last five years few months back, and if their much hyped La Masia fails to deliver world-beating talents in next few years, this deal could turn into the death of Barcelona’s golden age.

All eyes on Russia

The 1-7 debacle is past now. Tite’s Brazil are now the ultimate favourites to rule over the world in the coming years again. Neymar, the undisputed leader of the Samba Boys has always been exceptional in national colours and his records at just 25 years of age would be envious to even superstars like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. While Lionel Messi’s Argentina is struggling to qualify from South America, Brazil has become the first team to qualify for Russia 2018 and Neymar had been phenomenal as always. After the Olympic gold medal victory in 2016, their squad looks relentless. Brazil definitely know how to win titles and so does Neymar, the world have already witnessed it in the 2013 Confederation Cup. Although there will be some European challenges ahead of them, as both Germany and France could give them a hard fight. And as Russia will be hosting the tournament, it will be interesting to see how Brazil cope up with the difficulties. The only time Brazil lifted the elusive trophy in European soil, was when a certain 17-year-old wonder kid announced his arrival at the global stage. So, the challenge for Neymar would be to achieve the targets set by the greatest Brazilian footballer of all time.

As the World Cup is scheduled to take place in less than a year, this deal could play a historic role to reclaim Brazil’s dominance over world football again. Entire Brazil would be looking at their main-man to deliver in Russia, and this transfer could be a decisive factor in his individual and team’s overall performance. Although the first season in a new club could be unsettling which may impact his performance at the biggest stage for his country, on the brighter side of this deal, Brazil will have their core team playing together the entire season. The Samba boys reuniting in Paris should boost their journey to the top at the international level. The world cup victory would be the ultimate answer for Brazilians to the “Mineirazo whack” in 2014. The players have always had it difficult get into the right rhythm in international matches, and this has affected their performance inevitably. Both Spain and Germany, the winners of their last two world cup, had one thing in common. Their core team strengths were formed at club level, in Barcelona and Bayern Munich respectively. The Paris renaissance with five Brazilians at the heart of it, could actually uplift the Yellow side to repeat the trend set by Spain-Germany.

Their core team strengths were formed at club level, in Barcelona and Bayern Munich respectively. The Paris renaissance with five Brazilians at the heart of it, could actually uplift the Yellow side to repeat the trend set by Spain-Germany.

Neymar will definitely surpass Pele’s goal-scoring record for Brazil in the near future, but this transfer could definitely be a stepping stone for his aim to shine in the hall of fame amidst the greatest Brazilian footballers. And with the carnival starting in Russia in less than a year, Neymar couldn’t have found a better time to raise his game in the absence of Lionel Messi. So, the entire nation of Brazil will be following French football closely for the next one year and pray for their superhero to rise above all and get Brazilian football back to where it belongs.

Bigger than money

The involvement of Qatari money has raised questions at many level and theories have been cropping up about how this is nothing but an exhibit of their financial muscle-flexing before 2022 World Cup. While this saga is still a nightmare for millions of Barcelona fans around the world for many reasons, from Neymar’s perspective this definitely looks like the smartest possible move, keeping aside the fat paycheck he’s going to receive each month. He has crafted his career path with perfection, hence he joined Barcelona in his early twenties to learn from the very best in the world.  Now he has chosen his next move very carefully, here he can create his own dynasty and he sees the potential in this club. Also, from game theory standpoint, this transfer can be defined as a minimax move where the philosophy is to minimize the possible loss for a worst-case scenario. More like, Pep Guardiola’s Bayern move, where he was not successful in true sense, but you can’t label him as failure as well. So, the money involved in this transfer may find all the limelight, but the underlying drivers are very strong in this case. Cristiano’s Madrid move was an era defining transfer and no other transfer in the recent times could influence modern football in such massive way. Only time will tell if Neymar can overcome his challenges in the next few years and make his transfer as remarkable as the Cristiano one, but it would be difficult for him to fail in Paris.