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SPIRO: €222m? Neymar is a bargain

Ligue 1 Conforama > Spiro Blog

By M. Spiro

PSG may have smashed the world's transfer record for Neymar but the Brazilian will prove value for money both on and off the pitch, writes Matthew Spiro.

"Just amazing," Guingamp midfielder Lucas Deaux said, puffing out his cheeks just seconds after the final whistle. "Honestly, I would say 200 million is a bargain… and I'm being serious!" Deaux had been asked for his thoughts on Neymar's display in the 3-0 PSG triumph. Arguably no one was better placed to judge the 25-year-old than poor old Deaux, who'd spent 90 minutes hopelessly chasing the Brazilian's shadow, notably being subjected to one horribly embarrassing nutmeg and one lovely sombrero.

The actual fee of €222m is, of course, a ridiculous amount for a football player. Nobody is worth that purely for his ability to kick a ball. But Neymar isn't just a sensationally good footballer, he's a global superstar and (I'm sorry to write this word) a brand. His arrival is transforming the way PSG - and to an extent Ligue 1 - is being perceived around the world. Never before have 180 countries tuned in to watch a match at the quaint Stade du Roudourou - not even when Didier Drogba and Florent Malouda were rattling in the goals. In Brazil, as many tuned in to watch Guingamp vs PSG as a top-flight Brazilian match that was taking place that same evening.

Perfect sense

Yes, the size of Neymar's fee is hard to fathom. Many have called it obscene. Yet I would argue that spending such a sum on Neymar is wiser and better value (both in a sporting and economic sense) than spending in excess of that on Kyle Walker, Benjamin Mendy, Danilo, Ederson and Bernardo Silva.

Lille owner Gerard Lopez is a shrewd businessman and he sees the logic. "As an investment I think it's something (PSG) have thought about and they're convinced will play out positively," he told the Ligue 1 Show. "And I think they're right. In that sense I can only see positive things."

Raising the bar

In footballing terms, he is extraordinary and will only get better. PSG are already blessed with a dozen or so elite players. Yet put Neymar in the middle of Cavani, Di Maria and Verratti, his class and 'star quality' still shine through. That was the case on Sunday when his magnetic, velvety touch charmed the whole of France and many more beyond, and I have little doubt he'll continue to flourish as the talisman of this exciting team. Simply by being there, Neymar is challenging his teammates - most of whom are merely brilliant footballers - to raise their levels further.

Neymar is helping on the pitch and transforming off it. PSG have received a high-dose injection of sex appeal. TV viewers around the world want to watch them and elite players want to join them. By all accounts, Kylian Mbappé was already keen to return to his home town, but now Monaco's teenage sensation is reportedly desperate to move to the Parc des Princes because of his desire to play with Neymar. Likewise, another top Monaco player, Fabinho - whose principal concern is to force his way back in to the Brazil reckoning - believes teaming up with the Seleçaõ's leading light would be the most effective, sure-fire route.

Mbappé and Fabinho remain players contracted to Monaco, and the champions will have the final say on their futures. One thing is for sure though: with Neymar on board, PSG will no longer have any trouble in convincing a top player to move to the French capital.


>> FEATURE PREVIEW: Neymar Jr poised to enchant Paris


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