The soccer news starts with the latest rumors linking Neymar with a return to Barcelona. As always at this level, financing a move for one of the most expensive players in the world is at issue. ESPN's Moises Llorens and Sam Marsden are reporting that Barca's pitch includes players along with €100m. They're not the only ones interested, with Real Madrid also reportedly trying to work a deal with PSG.
It's worth looking at this from both directions. The La Liga duo are doing what they do. Buy the world's best players and expect to compete against each other for the Spanish and Champions League trophies. How this works in reality is a different question, but the theory remains the same. Both want a world all-star eleven and will figure out a way to pay for it.
Then there's PSG. What they've done in recent years is show that same willingness to spend as the rest of the top-tier teams in Europe. The problem is that they're doing it in isolation in Ligue 1. It's not that the French topflight is necessarily a bad league, its just not competitive when one team has the money to spend for the Champions League knockout rounds. Had PSG shown that they can compete for the Champions League title, player retention might not be such an issue. Still, it's an ask for a group of elite players with plenty of options to want to spend a season traveling around France. La Liga might also be top heavy, but it's three teams instead of one.
Meanwhile, UEFA's enforcement of Financial Fair Play hangs over the maneuverings of the super clubs. As we're seeing with Neymar, it's not as easy as it was to set a ridiculous release clause or transfer fee and have a club find a way to pay it. That was standard practice when Neymar moved to PSG. Now, it's figuring out how to get deals done without triggering a Financial Fair Play investigation. That change in scope is resonating across the top tier in Europe, changing the scope of how these clubs build their all-star squads.
Barcelona proposing what is normally referred to as a part-exchange in Europe is the standard way to move players in North American sports. It's a trade, taking the focus off of transfer fees and players moving for money. If that works for the most expensive player in world soccer, it could start what should be a necessary change to the transfer system. That would also move the European game away from a structure that's about spending to stockpile players especially at the bigger clubs.
What Neymar represents right now is more than what he can do on the field. It's potentially a way forward with a new way of doing business in Europe. If the transfer system changes at the top of European soccer, it changes everywhere else as well.
BBC Sport previews the UEFA Super Cup between Liverpool and Chelsea. FourFourTwo's Richard Jolly explains why Manchester United is taking a risk on the counter. The Guardian's Jacob Steinberg defends Premier League managers trying unique approaches.
The MLSPA supports the efforts of its fan/supporters' groups to overturn MLS's overly vague ban on "political" speech at MLS games. (1/2)— MLSPA (@MLSPA) August 13, 2019
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