The great transfer saga of 2017 is upon us and there are new twists and turns every day: will Neymar move from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain?
In the world of soccer transfers, rumors ranging from nonsensical to completely false pop up in the European sport tabloids daily.
If you’re unfamiliar with how soccer transfers work, here’s a brief explanation as it can get a little complicated and confusing to the casual American sports fan.
As opposed to most American sports, in which players are exchanged through trades (you give me player x and I give you player y), soccer transfers are a purely economic exchange. One team bids an amount of money to another team to acquire a player.
If that bid is accepted, the bidding team then negotiates with the player in question to try and sign them. Ultimately the power is in the player’s hands, especially if that player is someone like Neymar.
Many of the higher-profile players have a release clause in their contract. This release clause is a predetermined sum of money that will automatically make that player free to negotiate with any team willing to pay it.
In this case, Neymar’s release clause of €222 million (about $255,937,000) would be more than double the highest-ever amount paid for a player (last year’s €105 million sum from Manchester United for midfielder Paul Pogba).
Many of the more unbelievable transfer rumors are just that, unbelievable. Like earlier this summer when it was widely reported that Cristiano Ronaldo was going to leave Real Madrid because he felt he was being unfairly treated.
That was never going to happen as Real Madrid manager Zined ine Zidane confirmed this week
Most of the time these reports are leaks from players’ agents in order to get a new contract out of their team.
Two summers ago, every soccer news outlet in the world reported that Manchester Untied was going to land Real Madrid center back Sergio Ramos, who was ready to leave the Spanish giants.
In the end, Sergio Ramos signed a new ridiculously lucrative contract at Real Madrid and will most likely play out his days in Madrid until moving to MLS or China.
It seemed ludicrous that Neymar would ever leave Barcelona at 25-years-old for PSG. While the team in the French capital has a huge payroll and obviously the appeal of living in Paris is significant, the French league is not a high-profile league while Barcelona is one of the three most famous clubs in the world.
Marca say Neymar will sign six-year PSG deal on £500,000 a week. Total cost £352m. £196m release clause + £156m wages
— Kaveh Solhekol (@SkyKaveh) July 23, 2017
Slowly but surely, more and more reports emerged that Neymar was ready to join PSG.
There was a reported meeting between Barcelona’s board and Neymar’s dad/agent that apparently did not go well and now the Spanish papers were writing that this move could indeed happen, even that it would happen.
Neymar’s head had apparently been turned by the finances offered by PSG as well as the opportunity to escape Messi’s shadow in Catalonia.
So is Neymar the new Kyrie?
On Saturday Neymar twerked all over Juventus in a friendly at Metlife Stadium, the fact that he was playing for Barcelona was surely a good sign for the Blaugrana.
On Sunday night, Barcelona center back and famous social media shit-talker Gerard Pique posted a selfie with Neymar on Twitter with the caption “se queda” (he stays).
Se queda. pic.twitter.com/RtPHUr9iTH
— Gerard Piqué (@3gerardpique) July 23, 2017
So that’s it then?
Again… maybe not.
ESPN FC reported that Neymar’s entourage was completely taken aback by Pique’s tweet and that they had “no idea” why Pique posted the picture.
— Jonathan Johnson (@Jon_LeGossip) July 24, 2017
Then according to Daily Mail, Cristiano Ronaldo, who plays for Barcelona’s arch-rival Real Madrid, texted Neymar not to leave Barca unless for Ronaldo’s former club Manchester United.
Yeah, the whole thing is a mess, but also totally awesome.
Neymar is widely regarded as the heir apparent to Messi as the next greatest player in the world and his moving teams would send shockwaves through the soccer world.
The Brazilian captain has always been the man who would take over for Messi both on a global scale as well as in Barcelona.
If it does happen, it represents a shift in the world of football that would even dwarf the impact of the Ronaldo deal in 2009. Crazy. pic.twitter.com/MnxnJCXCXm
— Messi Minutes (@MessiMinutes) July 23, 2017
Barcelona would suddenly find themselves in a likely state of crisis. Despite the fact that they still have the greatest player in the world in Leo Messi and maybe the best pure striker in Luis Suarez, this current Barcelona squad is getting slightly stale and old.
A series of poor transfers where Barca paid too much money for average players and a deemphasis on La Masia, their famed youth academy, which once produced entire rosters of great players, has led Barcelona into a precarious situation.
Personally, I don’t really understand why Neymar would make this move. PSG is absolutely an interesting proposition and a team growing in global stature, but there is significantly less attention paid to PSG and Ligue 1 than Barca and La Liga.
Maybe the money is too good to pass up. Maybe Neymar doesn’t want to linger in Messi’s shadow any longer.
My money is on Barcelona doling out a new contract for Neymar in the coming weeks, but I’ve been wrong before.
This story isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Strap in and let the ridiculous soccer transfer season wash over you.