What a few days it’s been!
Whereas earlier this summer it may have seemed impossible to believe anyone would ever pony up Neymar’s exorbitant €222 million release clause, the past few days have brought all the transfer drama any fan (excepting, of course, Barca fans, perhaps) could dream of.
First, there was Neymar’s pointed refusals to issue any sort of statement about how he was excited to return to the club, despite several teammates’ attempts to garner such a statement. (Our favorite? Teammate Gerard Pique posting that Neymar was staying…then being forced to backtrack and admit he didn’t know, but was hoping his words would sway the star Brazilian forward.)
Things really heated up this past week, however.
First there was the team’s announcement that Neymar would train and play as expected under his contract. Then there was Wednesday’s announcement that Neymar had informed the club he was leaving, followed by the club saying he would not be practicing with the team. It appeared clear at that time that Neymar was going to Paris Saint-Germain, as had been the rumored destination even before he signed his contract extension with the hefty buyout clause last summer.
And then it got messy.
La Liga president Javier Tebas said he intended to lodge a complaint with UEFA for what he deemed “financial doping”. The head of UEFA’s FFP watchdog, Andrea Traverso, responded with a statement that he had full faith that everything was on the up and up, saying he was confident PSG had “done their sums well”.
But that was only just the start.
Early Thursday, reports began to spill out that La Liga was refusing to recognize the transfer, and would not accept PSG’s money. According to an ESPN FC story, La Liga’s statement was thus: “We can confirm that the legal representatives of the player [Neymar] came to La Liga to deposit the clause and that it has been rejected. This is all the information we can give at the moment.”
The French Football League (LFP) was quick to issue their own counter-response, of course.
“The LFP expresses surprise and doesn’t understand La Liga’s refusal to simply accept the buyout clause of the player Neymar,” read the official LFP statement.
By this time, Neymar had already undergone a physical in Portugal, and word was out that PSG was planning to announce the signing Thursday or Friday.
And then things got even more interesting: Barca accepted the fee directly, then terminated Neymar’s contract. This despite La Liga having not yet wavered on their position that they would not recognize the transfer as valid. And then we all know what transpired—Neymar was unveiled as a PSG player, but he’s unable to play in their league opener against Amiens because the transfer certificate has not yet arrived.
The drama, of course, isn’t finished—nor is the end likely in sight anytime soon.
Barca has already announced they will be forwarding the financial details to UEFA, to help ensure PSG is, in fact, following the letters of the law when it comes to Financial Fair Play.
Even if UEFA does investigate the transaction, however, as ESPN FC has noted, “The earliest PSG would be audited for FFP would be during the 2018-19 season, and any sanction would only take effect in 2019-20.”
As a result, it could well be years before all of this behind the scenes stuff is fully untangled.