With Neymar buy, Paris Saint-Germain will inflate club Football

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The €222-million transfer fee PSG paid for Neymar should set about a domino effect — higher performance, larger viewership, more money, better talent — in the league circuit.

Neymar Jr.'s star has always been on the rise. But the amount paid by Paris Saint-Germain for his transfer has injected a dose of inflation into the economics of club football. | AFP

With the Brazilian football superstar Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior's recent signing, Paris Saint-Germain F.C. has clearly sent the message across — we mean business. The fact that that sort of message cost the ruthlessly-growing French club a whopping, record-breaking, record-making €222 million ($264 million) will in no small measure potentially alter the economic dynamics of world club football. With the Brazilian magician’s former Barcelona forward partner Lionel Messi having crossed the 30-mark and Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo 32, age is on Neymar’s side. He represents the future of world football. He’s seen as the torch-bearer of the next generation of stars. The indisputable future contender/candidate for Ballon d’Or.

Inflation is not something that affects the prices of basic commodities alone. Every passing year brings with it ballooning inflation in the football market too. Over the years, and even more so in the last decade, with increasing popularity and penetration of television and cable network, the Beautiful Game has only succeeded in bringing millions of new followers/worshippers into its fold. That broadens viewership and fandom, logically, spinning more money.

 

On the back of the history-making deal, clubs are now quite phlegmatically quoting exorbitant prices for their players from interested clubs. And those in pursuit are willingly offering equally absurd amounts of money to land their targets

The immediate impact of Neymar's, in many ways controversial, move from Barcelona F.C. to PSG is visible already. In the first day after the official announcement of the transfer and even before the 25-year-old kicked a ball for his new club, PSG revealed that it had recouped over €1 million, albeit just a fraction of the total outlay needed to meet the contract release clause of the world-class talent, through shirt sales. The club's jersey manufacturer ostensibly has its task cut out for the foreseeable future.

Sky-high mission

PSG has been on a sky-high mission ever since the club’s takeover by Oryx Qatar Sports Investments in 2011. In no time, the new owners, with the boundless backing of the oil-rich Gulf nation, injected astronomical sums of money into the club’s coffers. Naturally, the club put into motion a shake-up of the line-up. Swedish maverick and mean goal machine Zlatan Ibrahamovic arrived the following year. Alongside came the Italian and gifted midfield playmaker Marco Veratti. The next year saw another marquee signing in the name of the unstoppable Uruguayan striker Edinson Cavani. Bit by bit, a semi-galaxy of stars was strung together at the heart of Paris. Success followed. Shirt sales rose. Match coverage broadened. Image rights shot up. TV rights raked in millions. More and more spectators thronged to the stadium. Millions more from around the world started watching, nay following, the club. PSG went on to become the most successful French club in history, at least in terms of trophies won. Today, they are on a par with the elite in European football.

This success story may not, however, sound unique, as it has more or less become a ‘trend’ these days. Club takeovers have been on the rise over the last decade and before. Many minnows or middle-tiered clubs saw their fortunes rise overnight with the munificence of wealthy patrons, albeit to varying degrees of success. But what sets the French sporting establishment apart is that none dared so big as PSG has in their acquisition of Neymar. This represented a new incredible high in the history of football transfers. The immediate impact on PSG was there for all to see, signified by the mega jamboree of an “unveiling” of the player before a full house.

 

Already, everyone’s talking about not Barcelona, not Real Madrid, not Bayern Munich, not Manchester United and not even the perennially ambitious Pep Guardiola–led Manchester City, who have splurged a jaw-dropping €217 million this summer so far in their efforts to be the new game-changer. It’s Neymar and PSG. Cristiano Ronaldo’s unfolding court saga over tax evasion allegations can wait. The real acid test of Belgian giant Romelu Lukaku’s English Premier League record transfer suddenly became a thing of lesser importance. Even before the French league commenced, PSG have made their mark, their TV rights revenues increasing reportedly exponentially.

New benchmark

Neymar will now serve as the benchmark for the rest of the PSG players, essentially requiring his teammates to raise their games as well. This should have a positive domino effect in the league, in that PSG’s opponents will find themselves in a non-negotiable position to set their own bar higher. That means an improved overall performance. That means, eventually, larger viewership, and, needless to say, more money. In turn, this would augment the purchasing power of most of the clubs involved. Meaning, more clout and standing and wherewithal to attract better talent to France in the face of tough competition from the league’s more popular and more moneyed counterparts, chiefly the English Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, Serie A. The cycle goes on.

 

It’s also obvious that PSG owners are undaunted by the bogey of Financial Fair Play regulations as they seem more than confident about counterbalancing the sudden money outflow to its European rivals. The new signing is expected to boost the club’s coffers sooner than later by means of image rights, sponsorship deals and a myriad network of merchandising.

When the French ace Paul Pogba moved from Juventus back to his former club Manchester United for a then-record transfer sum of £89.3 million plus bonuses last August, eyebrows were raised over the skyrocketing of transfer fees in football. However, none would have guessed that in just about a year, that record would be easily surpassed by over double the amount. Neymar's world-record move has already set off ripples in football transfers elsewhere.

On the back of the history-making deal, clubs are now quite phlegmatically quoting exorbitant prices for their players from interested clubs. And, those in pursuit are willingly, officially offering an equally absurd amount of money to land their targets. One prime and most recent example is the German club Borussia Dortmund reportedly flatly rejecting an opening offer of €100 million for Europe’s arguably hottest property, 20-year-old Ousmane Dembele, quite ironically, as a replacement for Neymar.

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