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Neymar to PSG: More than just a record-breaking fee

The Boot Room

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The dust has still not settled on what was undoubtedly one of the most famous and talked about player transfers in world football.  Last week the surprise deal of the summer was concluded. Neymar Da Silva Santos Jr. bid farewell to his Barcelona team mates to embrace a new era in his career with Qatar-owned club, Paris Saint-Germain.

It was the whopping transfer fee of £200 million that justifiably started the discussion among football fans and pundits alike. It would be fair to say that, up until last year, there had always been debate over some transfer fees, but this particular deal represented a quantum leap to another level of financial madness.

Take for instance the fee for Paul Pogba’s transfer from Juventus to Manchester United last year. To put things in perspective that transfer fee was £89 million, which is less than half of what was paid for Neymar this year.

Other deals in the past have come close to the level of the Pogba deal. Gareth Bale’s transfer fee from Tottenham to Real Madrid was £85 million. Cristiano Ronaldo’s move from Manchester United to Real Madrid in 2009 was £80 million and Gonzalo Higuain from Napoli to Juventus in 2016 was £75.3 million.

So, while we have seen a number of impressive fees in recent years, Neymar’s fee is clearly on a different level. Of course, part of the reason for this is that the fee was part of a buy-out clause meant to dissuade suitors like Paris Saint-Germain. Clearly, it failed to accomplish its objective.

The Neymar deal, however, continues to generate a lot of attention for reasons that go beyond the phenomenal transfer fee associated with it. The brazen ambition demonstrated by the Parisian club in going after the 25-year-old and their other recent Brazilian acquisition Dani Alves shocked many observers.

It fired a warning shot to the big clubs of Europe that PSG could go after any player they want. Barcelona didn’t expect any club to pay such a high fee for one of their star players and PSG’s daring move to fork up the cash and seduce the Brazilian star has turned this summer into a football version of Game Of Thrones.

The Dani Alves deal has a part to play in this story because it was the first revelation of PSG’s daring enterprise in this transfer window, even though it involved far less money. Pep Guardiola and indeed most City fans fully expected to see Dani Alves in pre-season wearing the sky blue jersey of Manchester City but PSG had other ideas.

Weeks of media reporting all but confirmed that Alves would be a City player. However, in the week that the Brazilian was expected to do his medical at City, PSG offered the 34-year-old full-back a more enticing deal than City’s offer, which dramatically altered the course of events.

While City fans were eagerly awaiting an announcement that Alves had signed for their club the shocking news came that he had joined PSG. The way in which PSG snatched Alves from the financially powerful hands of the Premier League outfit at the last minute was a remarkable exhibition of chutzpah.

Alves gave reasons other than money for his change of mind. He claimed he was enticed by PSG’s ambitious football plans. The Independent, and other news outlets, also recently reported that Neymar had advised him beforehand that he would be going to PSG and had urged Alves to join him.

Whatever the reasons, money or otherwise, they point to the power of PSG to convince players of the stature of Neymar and Alves to leave a trophy-laden club like Barcelona or betray a coach like Pep Guardiola, for whom Alves professed the utmost respect.  For these two stars it may well be about the money, but it is also about the desire to thrive. Neymar clearly wanted to break away from the shadow of Messi, while Alves wants more European glory.

The Telegraph reported that Alves declared, “If Pep Guardiola and Manchester City feel hurt, I am sorry. But I have come here to be a champion.”

The transfers of both players have created a whole new image of PSG as audacious upstarts shaking the established order of European football. The club’s financial power is no secret, but this summer witnessed a convincing demonstration of the true extent of their influence – and their willingness to exercise it ambitiously.

There is yet another dimension to the Neymar transfer and it is probably the most intriguing of them all. It is the idea that this deal is not just about PSG flexing its muscle the football world, but also the state of Qatar flexing its own power in the world of geopolitics.

This line of argument began when the Qatar-owned club hijacked Manchester City’s move for Dani Alves. In June of this year Qatar became the target of economic sanctions by a number of countries accusing it of sponsoring terrorism activities, as The Guardian reports.

Their accusers were led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).  The City Football Group which owns Manchester City belongs to Sheik Mansour, a member of the UAE’s ruling family. An article in Goal claimed that City insiders believed PSG’s move for Alves was an “act of retaliation” for the sanctions.

After the Neymar deal was concluded, another article, by Get French Football, explored the theory that Qatar was using the acquisition of Neymar as a means of turning global attention towards the country. The purpose of this was to ensure that the tiny nation’s political plight continues to receive the attention of the whole world. Qatar, the article points out, has been known to use sports investments to bolster its image and maintain its political visibility.

This raises all sorts of questions about what this type of deal means for the sport. Should football, its teams and its players be used as political pawns? Will this kind of state-level political activity in the beautiful game damage its integrity? More importantly, if players or their teams become associated with larger geopolitical conflicts, can this make them unfair targets for the media, states, politicians or even more dangerous elements in geopolitical games?

There may yet be more sensation to come from this football deal, because there is the whole matter of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules to consider. Spain’s La Liga attacked the PSG move claiming that the club was in obvious violation of FFP. La Liga clearly did not believe PSG could pay such a huge buy-out fee and still remain on the right side of UEFA’s fair play regulations.

In an interview with Mundo Deportivo, prior to the completion of the transfer, the president of La Liga, Javier Tebas, said the league would refer the matter of PSG’s infringements of FFP rules to UEFA. If the administrative bod fails to properly address the matter, he threatened to take their complaints to the competition tribunals in Switzerland and Brussels. The fact that La Liga believes PSG has infringed on FFP regulations doesn’t mean that it is so. For now, that is a matter for Uefa to decide.

The story of the biggest transfer deal in the history of football may not yet be over.

The Boot Room is a football analysis website, bringing original and creative content to the fans of the English Football League.

Barcelona

Three reasons Tottenham should replace Toby Alderweireld with Yerry Mina

The 23-year-old defender is targeted by Tottenham in a loan deal.

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Mina
Photo: Getty Images

Yerry Mina’s stock has risen following his fine performances for Colombia at the World Cup in Russia and Tottenham are one of the clubs interested in the defender’s services, according to The Sun.

The 23-year-old only signed for Barcelona in January but the club are limited to just three non-EU players in their squad, which has already led to Paulinho’s surprise return to China, and continued links to Chelsea’s Willian means Mina may have to be offloaded.

A loan deal may therefore be on the cards for Mina and Spurs should be eyeing a move as a replacement for Toby Alderweireld, whose future is still uncertain, and Mauricio Pochettino should be attracted to the player for these three reasons.

Partnership with Davinson Sanchez

After a poor opening to the World Cup with a defeat against Japan, Colombia turned a corner in the group stages in their second match when Yerry Mina was brought into the defence to partner Davinson Sanchez – helping the South American giants secure a 3-0 win over Poland, keeping the likes of Robert Lewandowski quiet.

From then on, Sanchez and Mina was the partnership of choice for Colombia manager Jose Pekerman and the Barcelona man proved to be an incredible threat in attack, scoring three goals in as many matches – including the last-gasp equaliser in the round-of-16 clash with England.

In the three games with Sanchez and Mina at the back, Colombia conceded just one goal – and that was a penalty netted by Harry Kane.

(Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Pochettino can get the best out of Mina

Since arriving at Tottenham from Southampton in 2014, Mauricio Pochettino has crafted Spurs into a very dangerous squad and has brought the best out of the players at his disposal – moulding Kane, Eric Dier, Kieran Trippier and Dele Alli into crucial players for England.

Christian Eriksen has also established himself as a key-part of Spurs’ ranks, while Hugo Lloris is up their amongst the best in the Premier League. These players all impressed in different ways prior to Pochettino’s arrival but the Argentina has taken things up a notch.

Yerry Mina would benefit from the same sort of attention from Pochettino, who has earned a stellar reputation as a figure who can help players of any age fulfil their true potential.

(Photo by Henry Browne/Getty Images)

Another developing star

Make no mistake about it, the next few years for Tottenham are crucial in the club’s development as they look to cement themselves as top-four regulars. Three consecutive appearances in the Champions League have put the Lilywhites on their way but the pressure is on ahead of the move to the new White Hart Lane.

Spurs do not have to look far to see the sort of issues that moving to a new stadium can produce, as arch-rivals Arsenal suffered plenty of problems following their switch to the Emirates Stadium, but those concerns can be avoided with the signing of young talents.

Tottenham’s squad is breaming with exciting young player and the reality is Spurs may not be able to turn away significant bids if they emerge on the market. However, they can secure the maximum price for their players due to the inflated transfer market and the ages of their prized assets – and Mina fits that bill if a permanent move was to arise further down the line.

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Liverpool to move for Barcelona’s Yerry Mina after impressive World Cup

The Reds are reportedly keen on the Colombian World Cup star

Liam Thomas

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Mina
Photo: Getty Images

Colombian international Yerry Mina has caught a lot of attention for some stellar performances in this summer’s World Cup, and now reports are claiming Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is intrigued by the idea of the centre back joining his side next season.

According to a story by Turkish outlet Fotomac, as reported by Sports Witness, Liverpool have entered the race to sign the Barcelona defender and will compete with Süper Lig giants Fernabache to acquire the 23-year-old’s signature.

Another challenge the Reds will face in the race to sign Mina is the fact he only signed for Barcelona six months ago and is contracted at the Nou Camp until 2023.

(Photo by Oleg Nikishin/Getty Images)

Despite this, Liverpool are certainly in the market for a central defender, especially one with the talent Mina possesses and the fact he is still only 23 years of age means he has the time to develop into an even more well-rounded player.

The Reds will be wary about the “World Cup curse”, however, as it was not long ago where they signed Serbian winger Milan Jovanovic after his impressive tournament outing, only for the move to dramatically not work out for either party.

Nevertheless, Mina certainly fits the bill for the type of defender Jurgen Klopp likes to have at the heart of his defence.

He is 6ft 5, powerful and got an eye for goal, something he demonstrated in Colombia’s World Cup group game’s where he scored two headers to send his team into a last 16 tie against England.

Could Mina be the man Liverpool have been crying out for to partner their £75 million man Virgil Van Dijk? He’s certainly got the attributes and pedigree to suggest so.

It’s still unclear how much Liverpool would have to fork out for the Colombian international, however, signing Mina could end up being a very shrewd bit of business from Jurgen Klopp.

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Would Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembele make Liverpool title contenders?

Jurgen Klopp has expressed his interest in the 20-year-old.

Josh Kerr

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Dembele
Photo: Getty Images

Liverpool should make a move for the La Liga ace Ousmane Dembele if the Barcelona winger becomes available this summer.

Manager Jurgen Klopp spoke of his fondness for the 20-year-old in a press conference yesterday and suggested he may be interested in signing the French international.

In quotes reported by the Daily Mail, Klopp admitted he was interested in the former Borrusia Dortmund forward by saying: “Is he on the market? Now I’m interested.”

Klopp’s interest may not actually lead to the club pursuing Dembele.

However, with a current squad losing bodies by the day following a large number of injuries to crucial players, Dembele would be a perfect addition for the Reds.

Some would argue he even may be capable of challenging Sadio Mane in the club’s starting eleven.

(Photo by Cristina Quicler/Getty Images)

Reports linking the club with Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann could spell concerns to the 20-year-old that he isn’t in Ernesto Valverde’s future plans.

The arrival of Dembele’s fellow countryman will make it significantly more difficult for him to keep his place alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

Dembele endured a tough first season for the La Liga champions, which included only nine Primera Division starts due to a long-term hamstring injury.

Understandably, a club as competitive as Barcelona can’t afford to wait around for Dembele to fulfill his outstanding potential and, therefore, a move may make sense.

The world’s third most expensive player certainly has the talent to be one of the brightest stars in the game.

If Liverpool genuinely want him, they will have to fork out a lot more than the initial £96.8 million that Barca paid less than 12 months ago.

Following Barcelona’s drawn-out pursuit of former Reds talisman Philippe Coutinho, the tables could now turn.

This time, it would be Jurgen Klopp’s side testing the Catalan giants resolve in their attempts to pry away a once-prized possession for an astronomical fee.

Dembele was initially considered a panic buy after the departure of Neymar to Paris Saint Germain and the Catalan’s failure to sign Coutinho in the same window.

(Photo by Octavio Passos/Getty Images)

Having now captured Coutinho, and with the club being linked with Griezmann, both of whom can slot into Barcelona’s famous front three, it is difficult to see what Dembele’s role in the team will be next season.

At just 20 years of age, the Frenchman is too talented to sit on the bench and with Liverpool proving themselves to be among the best in Europe this season, he could be the perfect player for Klopp to break the bank, to ensure the Reds continuing improving under his control.

With Naby Keita set to join this summer, and considering Virgil van Dijk’s immediate impact, the addition of another top player, in the form of Dembele, could be the move that allows Klopp’s side to seriously contend for the Premier League next season.

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