In Depth

Neymar shatters the transfer record – what happens now?

A new era of transfer fees, tighter regulation and a power shift in European football are all possible

The transfer of Neymar from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain for £198m has more than doubled the record fee for footballers, potentially opening the footballing equivalent of Pandora's Box. 

What will the economic, footballing and political consequences of the deal be?  

A new era begins

"Even to those who have become used to the spiralling costs of the market in recent years, the numbers are incredible," says Ed Aarons in The Guardian. "Neymar will cost a whopping 138 per cent more than the £89m Juventus received from Manchester United for Paul Pogba last summer."

Although it overshadows everything else, the Neymar deal doesn't exist in isolation and could send the transfer market into overdrive before the window closes at the end of the month.

There will inevitably be a "domino effect" in an "already inflated environment that has seen Kyle Walker and then Benjamin Mendy become the most expensive defender in history following their moves to Manchester City from Tottenham and Monaco respectively", says Aarons.

The summer of 2017 will be remembered for "redefining the parameters of the modern transfer". 

But how long can it last? The numbers are "crazy" and "nonsensical", says Alvaro Ferreres of Eurosport. "It seems as if football is teetering on the edge of a cliff right now."

Barcelona go hunting

In the immediate aftermath of the deal one thing is clear: Barcelona have £198m in the bank, a hole in their squad and a bruised ego.

They will surely look to make a statement of intent with a big signing of their own over the next few weeks. 

Ousmane Dembele and Paulo Dybala have been mentioned. But do they have the profile?

Liverpool fans will be concerned that Philippe Coutinho is on the Barcelona radar and he fits the bill in terms of star quality. But if the Spanish giants really want to assert themselves perhaps a move for Kylian Mbappe will emerge. 

As the Neymar deal unfolded, it emerged that Mbappe – already a big money target for Real Madrid – had asked to leave Monaco.

"If Barcelona did manage to snatch Mbappe from underneath Real Madrid's nose the fallout would be huge," says the Daily Telegraph. It would also land a blow on French football in general.

Talking of the French, Antoine Griezmann has also been mentioned in dispatches. His arrival would at least mean Barcelona could replace the fabled MSN brand of Messi, Suarez and Neymar with MSG.

The future is French

Paris Saint-Germain believe Neymar is "the last piece in the puzzle that will lead them to Champions League glory", says Julien Laurens of The Guardian.

They had a five-year plan to get to the summit of European football that began in 2011. But the task proved too much even for the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic. 

A new assault on Europe is now underway, says Laurens. "Ibrahimovic was only the entree. Neymar is the main dish, the cheese plate and dessert." 

PSG will carry the rest of the French league with it, he adds. "Clubs such as Monaco, Marseille, Nice, Lyon and even Lille have attracted investment from abroad. They are recruiting better players and faring better in European competitions. PSG have created a great dynamic in France over the past six years and Neymar's arrival will only increase it." 

It could, in true European fashion, lead to a war between France and Spain. La Liga has been badly stung by the Neymar deal.

Tighter regulation?

Only a handful of clubs can afford to throw nine-figure sums at transfers. Could this deal help create an elite among the elite? And should there be tighter financial regulation to level the playing field? 

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes so. "It looks like the inflation is accelerating. We crossed the €100m line last year and only one year later, we're crossing the €200m line," he tells The Times. "We cannot compete at that level. It will have implications because of the consequences it will provoke." 

He believes the political ambitions of PSG's Qatari owners are responsible for queering the pitch.

"Once a country owns a club, everything is possible," he says. "It becomes very difficult to respect the financial fair play because you can have different ways or different interests for a country to have such a big player to represent a country. It can't justify the investments."

Certainly, PSG will come under intense scrutiny as they attempt to explain how they will finance the deal under the existing rules.

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