Gosh, Paris Saint-Germain sure took Monaco winning Ligue 1 hard.
Okay, let’s back up ever so slightly here. Despite spending increasing to ridiculously eye-popping levels across Europe this summer, PSG hasn’t done that much business. They acquired Dani Alves on a free transfer. They brought in left back Yuri Berchiche for roughly the same amount in which they combined to sell Jean-Kévin Augustin and Youssouf Sabaly for (€17 million).
Now they’re this close to securing Barcelona’s Neymar……for a cool, crisp fee of €222 million. That’s incredible. Remarkable. Unheard of. Any descriptor would apply, really. But please, let’s not suddenly pretend to care about Financial Fair Play regulations. For reference, Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City has spent roughly €241 million on new players this summer. Strictly speaking transfers, they’ve maybe recouped €42 million of that through player sales. In short, they’ll be fine. So will PSG. Financially speaking, anyway.
And I’m not suggesting you have to like it—I’m not all that comfortable with it myself. But this? This is rich:
“La Liga president Javier Tebas has said he is ready to file a complaint about ‘financial dopers’ Paris Saint-Germain to UEFA and the European Union for what he feels are clear breaches of financial fair play over their pursuit of Neymar.”
I’m not going to go into all of the details here—that’s not what this is about. You can read more of Tebas’ statement here. And if you’re into that sort of thing, you can read up on all Financial Fair Play regulations right here. But before I get to the real point, I’ll mention this: before La Liga’s newly-minted TV deal, these are what the payouts looked like after the 2015-16 campaign:
1. Barcelona (€140 million)
2. Real Madrid (€140 million)
3. Valencia (€48 million).
For perspective, these were the Premier League payouts……after the 2011-12 season.
Now Tebas cares about fairness? Astonishing. Just because star players reside in your league at one point in time doesn’t mean they’re yours forever. Was Tebas ever this upset over what Real Madrid would do season after season? I assume not (and he shouldn’t have been). Shame when the shoe ends up on the other foot, isn’t it?
But there’s bound to be drama. There’s going to be more drama that than statement alone. Hell, Neymar isn’t even a PSG player yet. This saga is far from over. Then a new saga will begin: PSG’s season.
Once again, Ligue 1 is theirs to lose. Let’s not act like Monaco were scrappers, either—they’re also pretty well off financially. Last season’s Ligue 1 champion was a slight change of pace, that’s it. Plus Monaco has already sold three big pieces of that squad this summer. That’s what they do. PSG, on the other hand, never have to do that. They are the kings of Ligue 1, even if they cannot get beyond that.
And that’s what this is about. That’s what signing Neymar is about. That fee brings with it plenty of personal pressure, sure, but nothing Neymar isn’t used to. But for PSG, it brings heightened expectations. Even more so, anyway. Winning trophies is a nice feeling, and they’ll be thrilled to capture another Ligue 1 crown, but it’s all about the Champions League now. It has to be.
As recently as February, I believed they had just taken their big continental step forward. PSG were coming off a 4-0 home victory—against Neymar’s Barcelona—in leg one of the UCL Round of 16. They were 90 minutes away from a spot in the quarters. But in that very same breakdown, I warned if there was any club that could overturn this…
And then what happened?
Barcelona took leg two 6-1. PSG were out in the most disastrous of ways. Oh by the way, that’s Neymar playing that final ball in. Sweet heavens.
In a way, the French giants are like the Los Angeles Dodgers of the Champions League. I’d allow arguments to be made that they are the Washington Nationals of said competition, but at least PSG have advanced in this competition recently. But the Dodgers? Absolutely. Year after year. All that money and talent with the same end result: falling short.
There was already little room for excuses with this club, but if they do indeed secure Neymar? That’s it. PSG doesn’t get a pass any longer. They don’t get to fall back on ‘But Madrid and Barca!’ No, that’s nonsense. For as easy as Ligue 1 is, they can just about coast—assuming Monaco doesn’t pull a repeat of 2016-17. They can stay relatively fresh while remaining sharp for what truly matters. Last season could have been the year for PSG.
This season has to be.