Barcelona have 222 million euros on their hands and are looking to spend. They have Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembélé in their sights, but it won't come cheap. Some have reminded Barça's president, Josep María Bartomeu, of what happened to one of his predecessors, Joan Gaspart, when Luís Figo left for 60m: he rushed out into the transfer market for a hasty shopping spree, and paid a high price... He tried to panic-buy his way out of a tight spot and it backfired. The club went on to endure five trophyless years, unless you count the Copa Catalunya. Gaspart has since openly admitted that his rash bid to make up for Figo's departure was a mistake. But, at the time, he saw no other option. And he was at least operating in a market with some logic to it.
Major clubs hugely concerned about effect of PSG's Neymar swoop
Now, like then, other clubs are all too aware of the fat wad of cash burning a hole in Los Azulgranas' pocket. They're demanding nigh-on prohibitive sums that defy all logic. And since the top price for a footballer has jumped overnight to 222m, they see no excess in valuing their star men at upwards of 100m. That's the consequence of the Neymar affair, which has provoked mightily displeased mutterings among the chiefs of the continent's major teams, who together make up the European Club Association (ECA). Bayern Munich CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has pointed out that the Bundesliga side's stadium, the Allianz Arena, cost less than the Brazilian. Rummenigge is also advocating the implementation of a salary cap.
UEFA must do more to enforce 'financial fair play'
Neymar's Paris Saint-Germain move has not only left Barça in a tizz, with money to burn and a sense of urgency to act; at the same time, it has alarmed all the rest. The clubs that live off the market (TV revenue, gate receipts and marketing) feel unprotected. Europe has developed competition laws that are not being observed in the football world. In the case of PSG, Qatar injects money into the circuit, sure, but at a cost of generating troubling levels of inflation. They're pushing transfer fees and weekly wages higher and higher. Clubs boasting tradition and well-established, successful business models deserve, and need, UEFA to ensure 'financial fair play' regulations are enforced. Which at the moment it visibly isn't doing.