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Two things became official on Thursday: Neymar is leaving FC Barcelona to join Paris St. Germain and international soccer’s money madness became outright insanity.
The Brazilian superstar made official a deal that will net Spanish-giant Barca $262 million, a world record transfer fee and the player himself an undisclosed but enormous leap in salary. In return, France’s biggest team gets an attacking phenomenon who, at 25, may still have his best years ahead of him.
It takes a rare set of circumstances where the previous world transfer record of $116 million – held by Paul Pogba’s move to Manchester United last year – was more than doubled. Yet Neymar is a rare player, with sparkling personality and technical gifts that make him a marketing dream.
PSG have made this move for performance and financial reasons. With Neymar added to its squad, the club will like its chances of contending for the Champions League next season and many more afterwards.
Off the field, Neymar really comes into his own. He is an icon not only as the figurehead of the Brazil team that is among the favorites for next year’s World Cup, but also in a way that transcends sports.
He is not the best player in the world, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo would still be picked by most to top that list, but if he maintains the upward trajectory of his career it likely won’t be long before he is soccer’s preeminent character.
Barca didn’t have to sell, but there is a heck of a lot you can do with all that cash, and despite Neymar being under contract until 2021, there’s not much to be gained by making someone stay who doesn’t want to.
Part of the attraction for PSG can be found by taking a closer look at its structure. The team is owned by Qatar Sports Investments, an offshoot of the Middle Eastern country’s sovereign wealth.
Qatar is slated to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup and is tireless in seeking to build its brand and influence in the world of sports. Having Neymar available as a potential ambassador would be worth a great deal, but maybe not enough to make the huge sum more palatable.