With the sudden influx of billionaire owners in the world of elite football, the amount of money available to buy players with is at an all-time high. The clubs that are now capable of financially competing with the established elite now have cause to believe that they can reach the highest peaks in the game. As such, it’s become a rather normal routine in each transfer window to hear about a club such as PSG or Manchester City “planning” on spending a fortune to acquire on of the world’s best players. This routine generally also has the same trajectory, hyperbolic claims are made in the media about player X imminently being on his way to one of these big spending clubs, and fans work themselves into a frenzy waiting for a deal to materialise. Only it never does. Well, usually.
Paris Saint Germain has, with their introduction to the higher echelons of European football, recently gained the ability to rival clubs like Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester City and Manchester United for the signatures of Europe’s best players. Since moving into this bracket of clubs, there have been frequent stories of their intent to sign the best players in the world, namely Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo – and now very recently, Neymar of Barcelona.
This isn’t the first time the talented Brazilian has been linked to PSG, but the story appears to be more legitimate this time around, with the French club reportedly already making Neymar jerseys. But, more importantly, for a season or two now, there have been rumors that Neymar sees his “better” teammates as an obstacle to him getting the recognition he deserves. That is to say, Messi and Suarez being more effective players detracts from his ability to be considered one of the best in the world.
However, these tactics aren’t necessarily all about a move away. Quite frequently, players will create some kind of drama that serves mostly to be a way of forcing better contract terms or treatment at the club that they’re actually at. It’s a tactic employed by Cristiano Ronaldo a few times during his Real Madrid career to apparent success. He’ll stoke the media flames by implying he might return to Manchester United, or flirt with the idea of heading somewhere like PSG – and before you know it, he’s signed an improved contract with Real Madrid – again. The Neymar scenario may be similar, but after a training ground bust up with a teammate last week, there’s some evidence that he may be trying to engineer a move away from the Catalan giants for a reported fee near the £200m mark.
If he truly is unhappy, as fantastic a player he is, and as likely as he may be to become as significant for the club as Messi in years to come, at that price it makes more sense for Barcelona to cash in on him now than to try and convince a reluctant player to stay.
So, the quandary exists: should Neymar stick around the Camp Nou, grab a pay-raise and some more focus from the new manager Ernesto Valverde, or is this buzz a legitimate attempt to head to PSG where he’ll be the crown jewel of the French giants and the talk of the town?