It’s official. The most sensational move in the history of football is happening. Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior has officially made his announcement to move away from Barcelona for a whopping €222m to PSG. This includes a commitment of PSG to pay Neymar a salary worth €172m. It’s a gob smacking amount of money that has the world of football a buzz and in absolute disbelief.
The announcement was made official by Neymar himself, and Lionel Messi quickly went to Instagram and posted a tribute video for the time he enjoyed playing with the Brazilian football magician. The reason why he decided to leave could be multi-fold. Money, to move out of the shadow of Messi or just to experience football in a different city. This type of investment in a player is unprecedented and no player in history has cost this much. Let’s take a look at the most expensive transfers, what impact these players had on their team to assess whether or not the money spent on the players actually yielded returns:
Paul Pogba (from Juventus to Manchester United) - €105 million
Pogba’s move is almost ironic. He left Manchester United as a teenager became a star for Juventus. He then moved back to Manchester United for a whopping fee of €105m, a world record fee at the time. The return to the Red Devil’s for Pogba has been stop-start and has been mocked for several times on social media for being great at ‘dabbing’ but not at football. He managed to stay fit the entire season, and played a total of 58 games in the 2016/2017 for Manchester United. During this time however he only managed a disappointing 9 goals and only 4 assists in the Premier league. These stats are underwhelming to say the least. However, I wouldn’t be too quick to write the Guinean born Pogba off, as his pre-season form has been quite impressive thus far.
Gareth Bale (from Tottenham to Real Madrid) - €105 million
After spending 2007 – 2013 with Tottenham Hotspurs, during which he made 146 appearances with a total of 42 goals, Gareth Bale moved to Real Madrid for a then record fee of €100million - breaking the transfer fee of his teammate Cristiano Ronaldo. There was amazing hype over Bale who had electrifying pace and could make runs that could split any defense apart. His first season with the club was a mixed bag, but still impressive nonetheless. He scored 22 goals and 166 assists, and most importantly brought the important UEFA trophy to Real Madrid against arch rivals Atletico Madrid after a 110th minute goal. Since then, he helped Madrid to two La Liga titles and another Champions League Trophy. It has really been a topsy-turvy time for Bale at Real Madrid, but despite this, he has always impressed when he plays with assists or goals with a record of 54 goals in 100 matches. In hindsight with all the trophies he helped Madrid achieve, it can be said it was a fee worth paying.
Cristiano Ronaldo to Manchester United - €94 million
In 2009, Cristiano Ronaldo made the move to Real Madrid for a fee of €94 million. The rest as the say is history. Manchester United must have been desperate at the time to hold on the golden boy Ronaldo, but could not do anything when the powerhouses Real Madrid approached Ronaldo. Since then, he has dominated world football, and arguably been one of the best players in the world since 2009, if not the best. He has broken world records, and his goal-scoring ability is almost unprecedented. Real Madrid launched Ronaldo into a record breaking phenomena, breaking the record for the most goals scored in the UEFA Champions League, most goals in a UEFA Champions League Season and taking his total career goals to 600. Even more phenomenal, is the record per game, scoring more goals than games played with 285 goals in 265 matches. He has won 4 Balon d’ors (probably with a fifth title imminent) and 3 of them were with Real Madrid. If anything, many people would argue that this transfer was not enough money since he changed world football at that time forever.
Gonzalo Higuaín (Napoli to Juventus) - €90 million
This name might surprise many to be on the list, and it just goes to show the extent of how money is currently spent in football. Higuain moved for a fee of €90 million to Juventus (from rivals Napoli). Many people and football pundits would not even rate Higuain on the top 10 most talented strikers in the world, but Juventus were still willing to fork out the money. He did set a record for the most goals in a Serie A season in 2015-16 with Napoli scoring 36 goals. His first season in 2016/2017 impressed many, scoring 20+ goals in his season, setting a record for Juventus becoming the first player to score that amount of goals in a debut season. He did help Juventus to a record sixth-title in a row. Although it could be argued that was business as usual for Juventus since they seem to be easily dominating the Serie A. Higuain however was no power for Real Madrid in the 2016/2017 final of the UEFA Champions League, eventually losing 4-1.
It seems that the exorbitant amounts of money spent on players thus far has yielded great results, titles and records breaking, bar one or two players. The move of Neymar to PSG is phenomenal, but certainly the expectancy from the French Based club is that he mercurial Brazilian will have to bring European success and not just domestic success. That is the true test of the return on investment on Neymar, and only time will tell.
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