Neymar transfer is a signing of the times

The transfer of Neymar from Barcelona to Paris St Germain is truly representative of what the modern game has become.

Neymar will earn a reported £600,000 a week if PSG meet his buy-out fee. Picture: AP
Neymar will earn a reported £600,000 a week if PSG meet his buy-out fee. Picture: AP

There are so many layered elements associated with this move that render Neymar’s significance and qualities as a footballer, fine player though he undoubtedly is, almost incidental.

If football were the sole criteria Neymar would not be leaving Barcelona to go anywhere. The Nou Camp, alongside the Bernabeu and Old Trafford, is a place where the train completes its journey, not a stopping point along the way.

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If, as is mooted, he feels the need to leave Barca to flourish independently of Leo Messi, pictured, and thus state more fully his claims to be the best player in the world, it is hard to see how he can achieve that in Ligue 1. At the very least he would need to win the Champions League, a prospect lessened by a switch to Paris.

It is clear that the signing of Neymar fits the geopolitical aims of a Qatari ownership desperate to shift global perceptions. The migration of football from sporting endeavour to business brand has utterly transformed the landscape.

You can see why any team would want Neymar among their ranks. And the move would hang together perfectly if it conformed to the historic principles of great team seeking the final piece of the jigsaw to compete once again at the highest level.

Paris St Germain are not a great club in the historic sense and do not compete in an elite league. In terms of ownership and geopolitical motivations Abu Dhabi-owned Manchester City face similar problems persuading the football world of the authenticity of the product. Thanks to City we are living in the age of the £50 million full-back. Given City’s interest in untested Monaco supernova Kylian Mbappe at £170m, you wonder why there is not an Etihad airbus parked at Barcelona airport with the engine running, assuming you can fit Neymar’s entourage in a 500-seater aircraft.

Not only do these ridiculously inflated sums pervert the market they disfigure the game and corrupt the competition, driving the best players towards an ever decreasing circle of wealthy clubs.

Barcelona must be kicking themselves that they did not set the buyout clause at an outlandishly high figure. Oh, wait a minute, they did. Their miscalculation was to assume there would be no-one mad enough to pay €222m.

Neymar obviously loves money, as do those around him. His complicated move from Santos to Barcelona four years ago is the subject of legal proceedings over allegations of fraud, corruption and tax evasion in Brazil and Spain. Such are the multi-million pound sums involved, it is easy to see how difficult it might be to regulate the many noses in the trough.

It would not surprise to learn that a move to Paris is in some sense an attempt to leave that behind, though with amounts so great, no vested interest is going to walk away from what they believe is due, especially the relevant tax authorities.

With wages said to be north of £600k net a week in Paris, Neymar should be able to settle any legal arguments and still have enough to buy a beach hut on Ipanema beach when his days are done.

With the football season shortly upon us, the public are left to wonder what is becoming of the beautiful game. One of the world’s great players leaves one of the world’s great teams for no good reason other than to bank more of the millions he can never spend.

And one of the richest clubs on earth buys the associated cache for no other reason than to score a PR goal in its drive to be seen as a player on the world stage. Bonkers.