Neymar: How Paris St-Germain's 222m euros signing can change European football

By Julien LaurensFrench football writer
I didn't come to PSG to be the star - Neymar speaks to BBC Sport

From Paris to Marseille, Barcelona to Munich, Istanbul to Shanghai, Rio to Los Angeles, and Sydney to Lagos, the football world spent Friday following the biggest transfer in history: Neymar's move from Barcelona to Paris St-Germain for 222m euros (£200m).

The sums of money thrown around in this deal by the French club are unprecedented.

On top of a record transfer fee - which met the release clause in the Brazilian's contract at the Nou Camp - Neymar will also take home an annual salary of £26m after tax for five years.

It will, unsurprisingly, make him the highest-paid footballer ever. PSG are taking the game to another level.

An impact worldwide

The deal catapults PSG into a new dimension, not just in France, or in Europe, but in global terms.

PSG chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi said on Friday that he has signed the best player in the world, although it could be argued that Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo remain ahead of him. That said, at 25, Neymar is the youngest of the three, with Messi, 30, and Ronaldo, 32.

Accordingly, the Brazilian has the greatest value and is the most bankable. He is venerated by millions for his flamboyant style of play, his goals, his assists and his moments of brilliance. His popularity on social media - 30.8m followers on Twitter,external-link 78.9m on Instagram,external-link 59m on Facebookexternal-link - is incredible.

Neymar is a brand in his own right, and his image is worth billions. He earns 22m euros (£20m) per season through sponsorship.

Since the beginning of his professional career in 2009, he has signed 20 deals with a series of big brands. Nike, with whom he has been under contract since 2011, is paying him 12m euros (£10.8m) a year - the same as Ronaldo.

It is a huge coup and proves that PSG are still very attractive to potential signings. They may have finished second in Ligue 1 last season, but they have the ambition to win the Champions League and become the best team in Europe. Paris is an appealing city in which to live. And the club have money to back up their plans.

What else could you buy for Neymar's £200m?

A considered investment

When the Qatar royal family took control of the club in summer 2011, they invested heavily not only to make PSG competitive on the pitch but also to transform the club into a commercial machine.

They have spent close to 1.5bn euros (£1.3bn) in transfer fees, wages, restructuring the club, and the building of a new 200m euros (£180.6m) training ground.

Under their stewardship, PSG have become a worldwide commercial brand with sponsors from all around the world - and partnerships that generate vast sums of money and in a very aggressive manner.

The template for that approach was set by looking at clubs such as Manchester United and, although they lost 100m euros (£90.3m) at the end of 2012, that had halved by the end of 2014, and they declared a profit of 10.4m euros (£9.4m) at the end of the 2016 season.

They earn 28m euros (£25.3m) a year from Emirates as shirt sponsors - eight times more than before the Qatari owners arrived - which is the eighth biggest deal of any a club, a little bit more than Manchester City but still behind Manchester United (£57.3m) or Chelsea (£46m).

Neymar, though, will be a catalyst to bolster their revenue even further. According to some experts, the Brazilian could increase by 50% or even double the value of deals PSG will renegotiate.

The club also expect different brands to queue up to work with them, with new business opportunities in Brazil, Asia and the USA, where the club are already well established.

Currently, PSG are sixth in the Deloitte money league with a turnover of £389.6m in 2016 (up 8% from 2015) - still way behind Manchester United (£515.3m), Barcelona (£463.8m) and Real Madrid (£463.8m). The theory is that Neymar will help the club close that gap.

Long before PSG knew they could sign Neymar, they chose to produce a yellow away shirt in tribute to the great Brazilians who have played for the club - such as Rai, Valdo, Leonardo and Ronaldinho.

They sold 526,000 shirts around the world last season but believe they will shift three or four times more with Neymar. Indeed, there were reportsexternal-link that they shifted 10,000 on Friday alone.

PSG fan
PSG fans have been buying Neymar's number 10 shirt since his arrival from Barcelona

Trouble on the horizon?

The deal has made a lot of people angry. Barcelona are threatening to put pressure on Uefa to investigate how PSG are financing the move; La Liga president Javier Tebas accused the French club of financial doping and of breaching Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations.

Bayern Munich are not happy either. President Uli Hoeness stated it was "a sign of weakness" to spend so much money on a player. PSG fear they could be marginalised by other big European clubs. They feel that would be unfair.

The club say they can balance their books and that their losses for the year will not be above the 30m euros (£27.1m) allowed by FFP, thanks to the bump in ticket and shirt sales, new sponsorship deals and the renegotiation of existing business contracts. They say they will prove that they can afford Neymar and did not do anything wrong.

Neymar graphic

A new king for Ligue 1

The Brazilian had not even arrived in Paris when Neymar-mania started earlier this week.

Hundreds of people gathered on the Champs Elysees, near the Parc des Princes or in front of the club's shops around the city on Thursday as the deal edged closer.

On Friday, Neymar was welcomed like a messiah. It was chaos outside the Parc des Princes when the superstar left the stadium after being presented to the media. Brazilian flags were everywhere, fans were singing his name and there were even children crying after seeing their idol.

Soon, he will be on the pitch, wearing the PSG shirt and the number 10 - although it seems Saturday first league match of the season against Amiens will come too soon.

French football fell in love with Zlatan Ibrahimovic during his four years in Paris from 2012. He was the indisputable king of Ligue 1. Yet even he did not cause the crazy levels of excitement witnessed this week.

Neymar is the new king in town. He will be treated like a God but, most importantly, he will take the league to a new level and give it greater exposure. He is better than Ibrahimovic on every level and is the perfect ambassador for French football.


For many years, French clubs have been used to producing players through their academies and losing them to bigger clubs, often in England, for a lot of money. That has happened again this summer.

Yet PSG have now proved they can compete with the biggest clubs for players. They can recruit Neymar, and they do not have to sell their Italian midfielder Marco Verratti to Barcelona.

Behind them, other French clubs are attracting investment from China (Nice, Lyon), Russia (Monaco) or the USA (Nice, Marseille). They too can try to compete. To prove the point, it was Monaco who won the league last season.

Even if Neymar makes PSG stronger and harder to beat, their domestic rivals are happy to have such a star in their midst. Bruno Genesio, the Lyon manager, said it was "extraordinary", while Emmanuel Macron, the French president and a Marseille fan, called it "great news" that showed "France was attractive".

Players from all around the country have expressed their excitement at the prospect of facing Neymar. Of course, PSG look even stronger with him. Some wonder if they can even go through the season unbeaten. But overall, Neymar's arrival can only be positive for everyone involved.

I wanted a bigger challenge and my heart chose PSG - Neymar


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