Football

Published on August 6th, 2017 | by Paco Polit

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Barcelona need to keep calm and carry on after Neymar exit

When Barcelona spends enormous amounts of cash, the results rarely go well. The Camp Nou club needs to take a deep breath before replacing Neymar

The drama ended with the most revolutionary outcome anyone could’ve imagined. Neymar is no longer at FC Barcelona: the ‘N’ in the MSN attacking trio left Spain with Paris as his new destination, after Paris Saint-Germain’s top dog Nasser Al-Khelaïfi paid the $263 million in his buyout clause. It’s the most expensive transfer ever in football history, an earth-shattering event that has rocked the football world to its core.

Madness swooped through the French capital in an official presentation that broke all previous records, with a thirsty frenzy for everything Neymar-related (PSG cashed in over $1 million in revenue for sold club shirts in a mere 24 hours!) and Al-Khelaïfi’s bold claim that, actually, the signing is not *that* expensive.

“It might seem so today, but it won’t in two years. We’re going to earn more than we paid for him. We’ve merged the PSG brand with the Neymar brand, he’s the best player in the world and in two or three years his worth will have doubled or tripled”, the millionaire stated.

While  Ligue-1 bubbles with excitement at the prospect of watching the Brazilian genius in their stadiums, Neymar Jr. and his ‘Pai’ (father) are having the time of their lives, basking in the glory that they would never have enjoyed in a FC Barcelona which still has the best player in history (Lionel Messi) in their ranks.

They are also having fun with the media, confessing now that the dust has settled that the transcendental decision was taken many months ago and that they were only biding their time: in fact, close friend Dani Alves admitted that he chose PSG as his next club because Neymar persuaded him, as he was landing there later in the summer.

Now, FC Barcelona has been left out in the rain without an umbrella, grasping at thin air but with a huge sack of cash to invest. Neymar’s departure, as traumatic as it may seem, could be only a petty nuisance compared to the terrible damage that the team would suffer if they spend over $200 million unwisely in today’s inflated market.

Something similar happened in 2000: after Luis Figo fled Barcelona and headed to Real Madrid for $60 million, Barça’s president Joan Gaspart spent a fortune when scrambling to sign overpriced players (Marc Overmars, Javier Saviola, Gerard Lopez…) and was never able to fill the void left by the Portuguese winger, while at the same time he quickly drained the club’s bank vault. Dark days, indeed.

Barça’s stagnation this summer has already been covered thoroughly, and maybe the club’s top executives should calm down and pay attention to the playing field, the place that makes or breaks any squad. Surprisingly, Ernesto Valverde has managed to work around the shortcomings and deliver a pretty notable product, with the spark and imagination that abandoned Luis Enrique’s final stretch in the bench, while at the same time gaining consistency in the back, Barça’s Achilles heel last season. Oh, and they have Messi playing for them, for what its worth.

Maybe the best idea would be sitting on the load of cash and make smart choices in the market. Instead of a spending frenzy, Barça and Valverde would benefit tremendously of signing only one or two players this summer, but making sure that the transfers *really* count and the newcomers really make a difference. Philippe Coutinho seems to be the nearest target: the 25-year old Brazilian attacking midfielder, reportedly, wants the switch from Liverpool to Spain to happen, and President Josep Maria Bartomeu is ready to pay a large sum (some $115 million) to secure his signing.

Another possible interest lies in Real Sociedad’s Íñigo Martínez, who would strengthen a defence which desperately needs class players with the ball who are also able to work hard and be mean in the defending area of the game. The transfer fee would be close to $30 million. Finally, one of Valverde’s dreams is Ousmane Dembelé: the attacker has an expensive tag ($110 million) and Borussia Dortmund doesn’t want to sell, but the manager believes his speed and one-on-one abilities would make the side’s attack formidable.

Overall, smart spending and staying calm will be the key factors this summer for a Neymar-less Barça. A period that not will only test the club’s resilience and ability to rebuild after one of its stars departs, but will also put stress on the club’s capability of keeping up with a star-spangled Real Madrid, a team that is coming off winning both La Liga and the Champions League. If they fail to deliver, we could be talking about a very long era of Real dominance.

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About the Author

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Paco Polit is a Valencia-based journalist with over ten years experience reporting La Liga, covering both Valencia CF and Levante’s news, signings, ups and downs. Madrid and Barcelona are huge, indeed, but the Spanish La Liga is much, much more: regarded as the top football competition in the world, he enjoys explaining why to every reader from abroad.



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