Last summer, PSG paid Barcelona 222 million for Neymar, and Barcelona, in turn, splashed out 145 million euros for Dembélé and 165 million euros for Coutinho.
Neymar was already a proven star, the supposed heir to the Ballon d’Or, or at least that is how it looked at the time. But Dembélé and Coutinho were, and still are, future prospects. Dembélé did not participate in the World Cup. Coutinho did and played well, but he was far from on fire. And Liverpool even managed to reach a Champions League final without him. For me, Coutinho and Dembélé have inflated the transfer market more than Neymar, who, at the time, considering his reputation (which has since been damaged after his antics at the World Cup), was perhaps worth the money.
I’m not bringing this up to blame Barca. They did what many others would have done to save face after selling a player like Neymar. I bring it up as it explains the high prices that are now being demanded. The reasoning is: "if Dembélé costs this much, then I won’t sell so-and-so for less than that". The so-and-so, for example, could be Hazard, and the price: 200 million euros. And this is the situation faced by Real Madrid, who, for their part, have helped drive up inflation by paying millions for two teenagers, Vinicius and Rodrygo, and we are yet to see if they have what it takes to become a Robinho or a Neymar.
The paradox is that this hyperinflation contrasts with what happened in the World Cup. There are a few players of decisive value – Mbappé, Hazard, Griezmann, our old friend Modric – but the list is not long.
It was a World Cup marked by collective efforts, set pieces and penalties. There is nothing to justify this jump in prices more than the tremendous jump last summer, caused by the injection of Qatari money into Barca and the club’s rush to spend it. Now clubs are asking a lot for little, which is why the market is moving so little and why coaches such as Mourinho and Guardiola, among others, are complaining.