PARIS: Neymar’s world record 222 million euro transfer fee may look expensive, but it will end up earning a great deal of money for Paris Saint-Germain, club president Nasser Al-Khelaifi insisted Saturday.
Neymar, 25, is among the world’s finest players and will help the ambitious Ligue 1 club gain the success it craves in Europe. But the eye-popping fee left many experts divided over whether it was good business or a risky financial gamble.
“I don’t think it’s expensive, I’m convinced we are going to earn more money with him. It’s a project of two brands: we’re associating the Neymar brand and the PSG brand,” Al-Khelaifi said.
And the incredible commercial potential of the former Barcelona star was visible after his first day at the club, with a rush on PSG shops on the Champs-Elysees and Parc des Princes to purchase his coveted number 10 jersey.
The French club had already clawed back around a million euros on their world-record investment in just one day thanks to selling a staggering 10,000 shirts bearing the Brazilian’s name, costing 140 euros each.
The club are also expected to sell a further 15,000 Neymar shirts on Saturday, when he was presented to the fans at the Parc des Princes ahead of their Ligue 1 opener against Amiens.
The merging of the brands appears to have commercial potential too.
PSG deputy managing director Frederic Longuepee told AFP that the club was valued at 1 billion euros and has “200 million fans around the world”.
As for the Neymar brand, the player has 30 million Twitter followers, 60 million on Facebook and a whopping 78 million on Instagram — second only to Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo.
“With Neymar, PSG will sell a great deal of shirts and have all kinds of commercial partnerships in France and around the world, but it is difficult to measure how much,” Jean-Pascal Gayant, Professor of Economics at the University of Le Mans, told AFP.
Gayant believes that while the transfer fee may look “risky”, the club would swiftly renegotiate its existing commercial and sponsorship contracts to benefit from the Neymar effect.
“There are not two Neymars in the world. I would love for us to meet in two years and see what his value will be compared to today. At least double,” boasted Al-Khelaifi.
Pundits in England suggest part of the transfer fee gold rush is fuelled by a belief prices will indeed rise sharply, but not everyone agrees.
“Not much surprises me anymore, but 400 million [euros] would do the trick. In sporting terms, physically he is at his peak value now, in our way of calculating a player’s value. The optimum is around 26 or 27-years-old [he’s 25],” said Loic Ravenel, a researcher with the Football Observatory.
“Over the next five years his value will rise but, maybe not to those summits,” he told AFP of Al-Khelaifi’s predictions.
And the Football Observatory estimated Neymar’s value using their algorithm — which they can apply to any footballer in Europe — at 210.7 million euros.
“The most added value would be with [Kylian] Mbappe, [Paul] Pogba, or [Anthony Martial], players at 21-22 [18, 24 and 21 in fact], and who can still be resold at 26, which is the case in point with Neymar,” the expert insisted.
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“But maybe by then another young footballer may have come along and replaced him, maybe someone even better, attracting the media and the sponsors.”
Former Argentina coach Marcelo Bielsa, now with French side Lille, believes Neymar is value for money.
“If one considers what he brings or produces nothing that is invested is exaggerated. According to this logic, Neymar is not expensive,” said Bielsa.
Former Barcelona vice-president Marc Ingla hailed Neymar’s signing as a new dawn for the French league.
“It’s exciting, it’s very good news for French football,” said Spaniard Ingla, now director general at Lille.
“I have great belief in Ligue 1 and its ability to produce great talents. For me, France is like the Brazil of Europe. Neymar is an accelerator of the image of Ligue 1 which he can bring to wider television audiences.”
On the pitch, PSG are hoping Neymar can help them win back the Ligue 1 title they lost to Monaco last season, and also finally get their hands on the Champions League trophy.