3rd August 2017. Some may refer to it as the doomsday of football or ‘The Beautiful Game’ as we well know it, others may simply say that football was already ruined by ever-increasing transfer fees and significant underhand payments being made to football agents who represent the players. But for many, this marks the end of football as Neymar completes his €222 million from FC Barcelona to Paris Saint Germain, making him by far and away the most expensive player to ever grace the game.
Following intense speculation over recent days and back and forth between both clubs Neymar signed a 5 year deal in the last hour which will reportedly earn him in excess of €30 million per year after tax and a major bonus upon putting pen to paper.
Football was often hailed as the game of the people. Where they went to watch the club they love and to shout their hearts out to support their players. Many years ago, players weren’t on ludicrous wages, they didn’t drive 5 sportscars, own their private yachts and planes and own mansions across the globe. The only real difference between them and everyone else was that they had an innate talent which was they could play football.
Football was a release, a common ground for those to attend after a hard day or a hard week of work. To experience the rollercoaster of emotion that comes with following a football club.
As the stakes increased, the money increased with clubs doing their best to become successful. The dawn of Sky Sports and the advent of the Premier League back in 1992 brought things to a whole new level in terms of investment and publicity. Many regard this as the beginning of the end for football. Some would say that today has been a long time coming.
Only last year, Paul Pogba’s move from Juventus to Manchester United set a new world record transfer fee standing at €105 million. The Neymar transfer more than doubles this and highlights the fact that football can’t continue like this and is really losing its touch with reality and with the people.
As player prices inflate and the wages of players skyrocket, clubs will need to generate income to sustain this spending. Prices for the ordinary fans will increase from tickets to merchandise. Normal working people won’t be able to afford tickets and will be outpriced by those who possess more money. Football is simply becoming a business.
Old Trafford for example, which holds 77000 people is devoid of any real atmosphere for a normal Premier League match. Why? Because the average joe cannot afford to attend every week which means that clubs are losing touch with their roots.
Ok, Neymar was part of one of, if not the best attacking tridents the game of football has ever seen, playing alongside Luís Suarez and Lionel Messi, the 5 time Ballon d’Or winner. He notched 105 goals in all competitions for Barcelona over his 4 year stint at the club. Last season he scored 20 goals and had 27assists to his name which prompted PSG to sign him as they look to scale the European footballing summit by winning the UEFA Champions League next season and to also wrest the Ligue 1 title back from Monaco. Thy hope that Neymar will be the catalyst for this.
Undoubtedly, the lure of astronomical wages attracted Neymar, but what probably sealed the deal was the ‘career plan’ he mentioned in his farewell statement to FC Barcelona and the chance to escape the long shadow cast by Lionel Messi, who towers over the football club with his mercurial talents.
Messi or ‘La Pulga’ (The Flea) as he is fondly known, is regarded by many as the greatest of all time and while Neymar stayed in Catalonia he had to adapt his game to suit the Barcelona’s Argentinian talisman. Neymar, who can play out wide or as a number
10, almost always played wide left to allow Messi to utilise his vision as a number 10; a role which Neymar plays while on international duty with Brazil. This gives him more freedom to express himself and he obviously feels that if he is free from Messi and can play in his preferred position that win the Ballon d’Or sometime soon.
If PSG were to win a Champions League, Neymar would be the main man, likewise if Brazil were to win next year’s FIFA World Cup. This could possibly propel Neymar to individual glory but would it be worth it?
Giving up the chance to play at a bigger football club with better technical players, not to mention the likes of Messi, Suarez and Andrés Iniesta, who would’ve taught Neymar so much as a player, is a big risk but for Neymar, the thoughts of a bit more personal glory justify this.
However, this chance would have naturally presented itself at the Camp Nou over the next few seasons with both Messi and Suarez 30 years of age and Neymar only 25 with his peak years still before him. Some say Messi is in decline but that remains to be seen. He could’ve added to an already impressive medal haul from his time in Catalonia which includes 2 La Liga titles, 3 Copas del Rey, 1 Fifa Club World Cup and a Spanish Super Cup.
Some say Messi is in decline, now at 30 years of age. Neymar feels that now is his time to take the mantle of the world’s best player. Time waits for nobody, however, in Neymar’s case, he will not wait for time.