When Paris Saint-Germain broke the world of football with the £200m signing of Neymar, a previously unfathomable transfer was made. The Brazilian star was untouchable in Spain, one of those players that people sign on video-games with a chuckle, as they know that it would never happen in real life. Yet the Parisian giants swooped into Catalonia, paid over double the record transfer fee, and pinched one of the most important assets in sports. It showed that anything was possible.
A couple of weeks before the Neymar story gained speed, social media went into meltdown as reports emerged that Real Madrid were close to signing AS Monaco sensation Kylian Mbappé for a record fee of £161m. We now know this drama was a prelude to an even bigger transfer that was ready to steal the show, but in any other summer, it would have been far and away the headline act.
Everyone thought that PSG were done in this window. Everyone thought that Mbappé would only leave for Madrid. Everyone thought that AS Monaco would never do a deal with their title rivals. Yet, as it so often has this summer, the transfer market is in a gleeful mind of its own. According to Sky Italy, PSG are now closing in on a move for the 18-year-old wonderkid on a loan deal with an option to buy for £128m plus Lucas Moura.
— Sky Sports PL (@SkySportsPL) August 21, 2017
PSG flexing their muscles
In case you didn’t know, this is kind of a big deal. PSG’s muscle-flexing has moved up to a new weight division, breaking down the barriers of a club that really, really did not want to sell to them. For AS Monaco, a deal with Real Madrid or Manchester City would have been much more beneficial, yet there’s only so much that you can resist the financial power of the Qatari state.
The move is reminiscent of the ignition of the original Real Madrid Galácticos side, master-minded by Florentino Perez at the start of the century. The first signing of the era was one that shocked the world, as Portuguese icon Luis Figo made the move from Barcelona to Madrid in a world-record €62m deal.
The star, who quickly won World Player of the Year at the Santiago Bernabeu, was the first jewel in the Los Blancos crown, and the signing that proved that they could do whatever they wanted to do. They went on to spend €227m over four years – Neymar cost €220m alone.
Galácticos Era Signings
|Luis Figo (2000)||Barcelona||€62million|
|Zinedine Zidane (2001)||Juventus||€75million|
|Ronaldo (2002)||Inter Milan||€46million|
|David Beckham (2003)||Manchester United||€35million|
|Michael Owen (2004)||Liverpool||€9million|
Yes, PSG have signed international stars since their takeover in 2010 – Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva and Edinson Cavani to name but a few – but this summer is a different level of intent; they are doing whatever they want to do. There’s no doubting that Neymar’s arrival was, and will be, the most significant deal in the club’s history for the considerable future, yet the potential acquisition of Mbappé is in a gravitational sphere of its own.
The value of Mbappé
The Ligue 1 giants have long yearned for the signing of a high-profile French player in order to complement their foreign gems and to maintain a sense of identity within the club. The likes of Karim Benzema, Antoine Griezmann and Paul Pogba have all been touted as ‘the one’ over the last few years, yet the deals have never come through. None of the eight most expensive signings in PSG’s history have been French (as seen below).
|PSG Record Signings||Price||Nationality|
|Angel Di Maria|
(São Paulo FC)
If PSG can bring in the most exciting talent in world, let alone French, football, then they will achieve their goal in the most lavish fashion possible.
Furthermore, if PSG can prove to the world that they can sign their main domestic rival’s most valuable asset, then there will be club’s sweating about the futures of their own star players. The likes of Eden Hazard and Paulo Dybala look relatively unobtainable at Chelsea and Juventus respectively but who’s to say, hypothetically, that if the French side came in for either that they wouldn’t be able to prise them away?
Maybe I’m thinking too small. Maybe Lionel Messi is next, or Cristiano Ronaldo? After Neymar and, potentially Mbappé, the sky is the limit for PSG and there appears to be no player that is too expensive for their Qatari owners. They are developing an aurora in the transfer market that we haven’t seen since the peak of Perez’s powers in Madrid. It’s intimidating, dominant, and truly compelling.
Can they be stopped?
Not even the authorities can limit PSG’s splurge. If rumours are to be believed, then the French club will sign Mbappé on a loan deal, with a forced option to buy next summer, so that they can spread out their payments to Barcelona and AS Monaco respectively without breaching annual limit. It’s unorthodox and ingenious and allows them to bring in two of the most marketable players on the planet in the space of a few weeks.
Finally, we have to enjoy this. The football purists are already up in arms over the figures surrounding the Neymar deal, but the 6-2 win over Toulouse on Sunday night highlighted precisely why this is good for our appreciation of the Beautiful Game. The similarities between the Brazilian and Mbappé revolve around how they enjoy the game: the skills, the playful experimentation and the highlight reel that they create, all with a wide, childlike grin on their faces.
We should embrace and enjoy this along with them.
For Mbappé to, seemingly, accept a move to PSG ahead of Real Madrid or Manchester City highlights the excitement and pull factor that Neymar’s signing has generated. The French club now look like genuine contenders for the Champions League and, on paper, are rapidly approaching the VIP tier of European clubs. After years of trying to buy the ticket into the bracket, they’ve now bought the assets to truly earn their entry.
Bienvenue aux nouveaux Galacticos!
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