‘Once a country owns a club, everything is possible’ – Wenger questions rationality of Neymar deal
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger believes Neymar’s proposed €222million transfer to Paris Saint-Germain proves that football is no longer a rational industry.
Barcelona confirmed on Wednesday that the Brazil star wants to leave the club and he reportedly completed a PSG medical in Porto hours later.
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La Liga rejected an attempt by lawyers representing Neymar to pay the funds to activate his release clause early on Thursday, but the world-record move is still anticipated to go ahead, despite concerns that it would be in breach of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play regulations.
Wenger feels the deal is a natural consequence of wealthy investors taking over football clubs, with PSG owned by QSI, an arm of the multi-billion Qatar Investment Authority.
The 67-year-old is therefore not surprised to see a proposed transfer of more than €200m only a year after Manchester United broke the world record by spending €105m to sign Paul Pogba from Juventus.
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“For me, it’s a consequence of the ownerships,” he told a news conference when asked about Neymar. “That has changed completely the whole landscape of football in the last 15 years.
“Once a country owns a club, everything is possible, so it becomes very difficult to respect Financial Fair Play. That’s why I always plead for football to live within its own resources.
1 – Neymar was the only player from the top five leagues with +20 goals (20) and assists (21) last season in all competitions. Fantastic. pic.twitter.com/9PndcsLv4x
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) August 2, 2017
“We’re not in a period any more where you think ‘if I invest that, I’ll get that back’. We’re beyond that now. The numbers today involves a lot of passion, pride, public interest, and you cannot rationalise that any more.
“It looks like the inflation is accelerating. We crossed the 100 million line for the first time last year and only one year later we cross the 200 million line. When you think Trevor Francis was the first guy at £1million [in English football in 1979], and that looked unreasonable, you realise how far we have gone and how big football has become. It’s beyond calculation, beyond rationality.”
Wenger thinks Barca will be forced into paying inflated fees for their own transfer targets because clubs will know they have the vast income from the Neymar deal at their disposal, provided that the move goes ahead.
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“It’s the consequences we provoke. If Barcelona want to buy a player, we’ll say ‘my friends, you have 220 million in your pocket’, so what costs 50 million will cost 100 million for them,” he said.
He also added that such enormous fees are beyond Arsenal’s capabilities.
“We still live with rationality,” he said. “I think 99 per cent of clubs do that. But of course, we cannot compete at that level.”