Unless there’s another unexpected twist in the plot, there’s nothing stopping Neymar from joining PSG after Barcelona did the little it could to try and stop the inevitable. As massive as this transfer is, the only thing different from it compared to other mega deals of the past is the record sum, not the substance of what transpired.
Barcelona had no choice but to accept the €222 million release clause paid by Neymar and not the club, which couldn’t afford to due to the Financial Fair Play regulations, although the joke of the FFP is that PSG can spend all the money they want – they are only reviewed for their financial dealings in 2018. The fact that Neymar is actually getting paid by the Qatari government to help promote the 2022 World Cup and be the marquee signing of their flagship club in Europe means nothing. Barcelona received the money from Neymar and not the French club. It doesn’t make a difference.
Yes, Barcelona and the Spanish La Liga teams in general have a right to be upset about the obligatory release clause (due to Spanish law) in the contract of each player, giving them something of a handicap compared to other clubs in Europe, who can simply refuse to negotiate or accept any sum (like PSG with Marco Verratti, or Liverpool right now with Philippe Coutinho). But that’s not Neymar’s or PSG’s or Qatar’s problem.
And in the end, there’s nothing new about a player wanting to move because he’ll make more money. Barcelona and other big clubs in Europe have pulled off every possible trick to land players. Barcelona were punished for some of their dealings with young players not too long ago. Their signing of Neymar reeks of illegal activity. Their way of persuading players to leave their club or ask for transfers isn’t exactly ethical. They’re not alone. Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and others act the same way. It’s the way of the footballing world. The rich and powerful try to take everything for themselves.
Barcelona simply didn’t expect it to happen to them, not again. If this transfer reminds me of anything, it’s Luis Figo leaving the club in 2000 to Real Madrid. Perhaps more than the shock of losing Neymar, it’s the fear of a title drought. Barcelona went 5 seasons without winning a title, a lifetime in these clubs’ terms. Neymar isn’t their best player, but adding to Real Madrid’s success in the Champions League and Barcelona’s less than stellar transfer decisions in recent years, it’s natural to feel like they’re losing more than just one great player.
The whole sum of the transfer isn’t just the payment to Barcelona. Including Neymar’s salary, bonuses and other payments, it should cost north of €450 million. While Barcelona fans aren’t happy to see the Brazilian star leaving them, it’s hard to disagree with his decision to go for that kind of money.