Barcelona nets record transfer fee as Neymar moves to PSG

Workers put up a sign welcoming Neymar Jr. to ParisNeymar is moving from Barcelona to Paris, and all that it took was a quarter-billion dollars. The world-renowned Brazilian forward was officially transferred from the club he has called home for his first four seasons in Europe to French powerhouse Paris Saint-Germain in a record-breaking deal announced Thursday, bringing an end to weeks of speculation. The move triggered the release clause in Neymar’s contract with Barcelona, leading to a $262 million transfer fee for PSG.

The fee is more than double the previous record, set last year by Manchester United for Paul Pogba. It’s also 2.5 times what Barcelona paid Brazilian club Santos for Neymar in 2013. Barcelona’s rivals Real Madrid held the transfer record before the Pogba deal with what they paid to acquire Cristiano Ronaldo and later Gareth Bale, whose combined fees (if paid at today’s exchange rate) would still fall about $36 million short of what PSG paid to land Neymar.

PSG are no strangers to making big splashes in the transfer market, throwing their financial weight around over the years to add international stars like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Edinson Cavani, Angel Di Maria, David Luiz, and Lucas Moura. As a result, they are the most dominant team in France, capturing four Ligue 1 titles over the last five years. But Neymar is their biggest get yet, and not just in terms of the money involved. He was the heir apparent to superstar Lionel Messi on Barcelona, and he is a pop icon in Brazil, having already achieved legendary status in his soccer-mad home country at the age of 25.

Barcelona have let big names go in the past, famously parting with Ronaldo 20 years ago and allowing Luis Figo to go to Real Madrid in 2000. Both of those transfers involved relatively massive windfalls and the incredible amount of money gained from losing Neymar will most likely be spent on bringing in other players to fill areas of need for the club. With Messi and Luis Suarez still up front and surrounded by plenty of capable passers, Neymar’s absence won’t be felt nearly as much as Barcelona’s defensive woes were last season, when they crashed out of Champions League play in the quarter-finals after needing a miraculous comeback to overcome PSG in the previous round. Letting go of a star like Neymar isn’t easy, but it’s possible Barcelona will emerge a more complete and competitive team once the summer transfer window closes.

Neymar will finally have his opportunity to step out of Messi’s shadow with his new club, but PSG now faces a logjam at the wing position, where Neymar joins Di Maria, Moura, Julian Draxler, Hatem Ben Arfa, and Goncalo Guedes. At least one of those players will likely be moved in the next month, which would also help PSG recoup some of the fortune they just spent to reshape the European club landscape.