Neymar’s €222m transfer from Barcelona to Paris Saint Germain has come as a shock to the football world, with few expecting a deal of this size to happen so soon. But it’s still safe to say that the surprise in Brazil is not so huge.
The 25-year-old has been treated like a superstar in Brazil since his childhood, even though Santos are one of the big clubs without the most media attention. The alliance between the player’s father and agent Wagner Ribeiro has always contributed greatly for his individual success to be huge, not only on the pitch but also in marketing. The duo are brilliant at lining up technical and financial interests.
It means they will run over anyone they want. That’s why it turns out to be comical to see Barcelona treated as victims this time, especially after what they did with Santos a few years ago.
According to Barcelona themselves, the club paid Santos €17.1m for the player in 2013. In bonuses, Neymar’s dad and Ribeiro received €69.1m. This is the kind of deal the duo were able to do behind the club’s back, with a huge amount of effort and planning, not to mention deception, put into that payday.
Now with the transfer to PSG, Santos should take around €11m as their reward through solidarity payments. Added to the friendly with Barcelona that has never been played, there’s €15m on the way to Santos. Almost the same amount as the initial sale.
A real joke, but here comes the worst: according to Rodrigo Mattos, from UOL, the idea is not to pay Santos as a youth club. This is the legacy of the bad relationship between Barcelona and Santos since that transfer, obviously headed by you know who.
So it’s no surprise that Neymar’s father is always working for more money, as we have seen in a number of negotiations over a new contract in recent years. Wagner Ribeiro had already revealed a conversation with PSG last year, in which Neymar would have thanked the French club for their super offer, but decided to stay in Barcelona. Something changed his mind in the past year, or perhaps someone else’s.
As brilliantly revealed by the Brazilian press, PSG were counting on signing Neymar in August. First Luis Augusto Monaco, from the blog Chuteira FC, said the French club were just waiting for the green light from Neymar to pay his release clause. Then Marcelo Bechler from Esporte Interativo showed up on TV saying that the attacker agreed to the transfer. They gave the information before any European source, and even with the various criticisms and twists during the way, did a brilliant job with the right sources, which certainly didn’t come from Barcelona.
As explained by ESPN pundit Gian Oddi, Neymar is handling his departure ‘like his father’ would. The Brazilian media is pretty aware of how things work in the family, and the player now seems to be learning as he grows.
Brazilian journalist Paulo Cobos interviewed Neymar’s father in 2009, and in the conversation he recorded an interesting quote: “For a boy, you give a pitch, a ball, it’s the greatest joy. Neymar needs to worry only about playing football. We take care of the rest.”
As Cobos himself reports today: “Neymar’s father protected his son in every way, turned him into a machine to make money with the unmatched charisma of the player, became his main agent, took strokes in his place and yes, he also made a lot of money.”
Neymar has been prepared to be a robot for quite some time now. His funny tweets no longer exist. His interviews are boring and he doesn’t even seem to be the same person who used to score against rival clubs and dance in front of opposing fans. By exception of extravagant looks and famous friends, there is nothing about his personality that is not generic. At least not publicly. A real money machine, like Cobos said.
But he’s not going for the money, some may say. He wants to be the best in the world. Something familar for Wagner Ribeiro, the same quote that came from his client Robinho after moving from Santos to Real Madrid back in 2005.
Neymar está mais próximo de ter uma carreira como a de:
— Eduardo Tironi (@etironi) August 2, 2017
Neymar has far more potential than Robinho, this is not a comparison. But is it worth joining PSG to try to be the best in the world? Is Paris really the ‘capital of football’, like Ribeiro recently said? Does it really make sense to leave a league where 14 of the last 16 Ballon d’Or winners have come from? It’s a strange choice, which certainly took some convincing.
He’s going all in to give his best in a single tournament, which is the Champions League. If he gets suspended or injured in the knockout stage and his club is eliminated because of some bad luck, that’s it. A season thrown in the bin, while the French league doesn’t get the same relevance.
The football world is living something huge this week. Whether it will work or not, time will tell. But Neymar’s courage in giving up playing alongside one of the best in history, at an unquestionably bigger club, is impressive. Let it be for money, ambition, or both.
Now imagine if he doesn’t win the Champions League or Ballon d’Or in two or three years. Perhaps, as for Zlatan Ibrahimovic, his next destination is finally the Premier League. Because to Barcelona he certainly won’t return, the same as for Santos.
Neymar is looking forward, but it’s perhaps a shame that looking back, at both Barcelona and Santos, will be tinged with the realisation he’s not remembered so fondly.