PSG, Barca and Man City highlighting two-tier finances in football

Author: DUNCAN CASTLESMon, 2018-01-08 19:16ID: 1515430499202794500LONDON: Last August, Paris Saint-Germain committed to spending €402million ($418 million) on the transfer fees of two forward Neymar and Kylian Mbappe. In a trio of deals concluded between the last week of August and the first week of January, Barcelona committed to spending €407 million on transfer fees for Ousmane Demeble and Philippe Coutinho plus a signing bonus for Lionel Messi.
In among those five transactions were at least three world records (highest transfers fee for any footballer and a teenage footballer, record signing-on fee), three La Liga records (one record fee out of Spain’s top tier, and two in), and one Premier League record (highest fee in or out of England).
Qatar-owned PSG spent more in a single window than any club ever, yet were working on over another €100m worth of deals for AS Monaco midfielder Fabinho and Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Jan Oblak before Financial Fair Play cooled their enthusiasm. Had Abu Dhabi-owned Manchester City not been beaten to the punch on Mbappe and signed the France international themselves they would have retained that single-window high watermark. As it was City inflated the Premier League record for commitments on transfer fees to €282 million — and had a deadline-day deal agreed for Alexis Sanchez that would have extended that summer bill to €350 million.
To put the numbers laid down by Barcelona, PSG and City into context, in the three windows following Jose Mourinho’s appointment as manager Manchester United’s total commitment to transfer fees was ‘just’ €382 million, according to figures published by the CIES Football Observatory. United led Deloitte’s 2017 review of club revenue with record annual earnings of €689 million.
In some ways, Barcelona’s response is the most interesting. Embarrassed, infuriated and unnerved by PSG’s use of a release clause to forcibly extract Neymar from them, Barca’s board reacted in three ways.
First, it lobbied UEFA over FFP, banding with other established clubs to have the governing body warn PSG over state-funded excess. Second, it threw unprecedented sums at a new €35 million net basic salary (and €100m signing bonus) to ensure Lionel Messi did not walk out for one of the Gulf-state clubs. Third, it dived into the transfer market to buy Dembele and Coutinho at prices of €105 million plus €42 million of variables and €120 million plus €40 million respectively.
Dembele is 20 and Coutinho 25, both exciting attacking talents. Yet, many professional analysts argue that Barca have overpaid on both — particularly the young France international who infamously fouled up his official presentation by twice losing control of ball he had been asked to juggle for the cameras.
With Coutinho, Barca twice allowed the fee to balloon to levels they had initially indicated they would not pay. €160 million was a figure Liverpool said they would sell the Brazilian for before the end of the summer window, while asking the Catalans for time to secure a replacement. (Liverpool bid for AS Monaco’s Thomas Lemar, only to be gazumped by a deadline-day offer from Arsenal.)
As recently as December, Barca’s stance was that they were not ready to go above €100 million for Coutinho and had grown tired of Liverpool’s refusal to “negotiate in reasonable terms.” If that was no more than a negotiating stance of their own, the asking price climbed another notch when Nike released an online advertisement stating that “Philippe Coutinho is ready to light up Camp Nou” before the transfer was complete.
Nike sponsors both Barcelona and Coutinho. It is understood that the sportswear wanted another of its cadre of elite footballers to fill the space alongside Adidas-affiliated Messi vacated by Neymar, another Nike ‘name’. There is even a suggestion in the Catalan capital that Nike provided additional funding, via Coutinho, to get the transfer over the line.
Its ramifications ripple on through the system. Last January, the entire Premier League spent £215 million ($291 million) on transfer fees. In the first week of the 2018 window, Liverpool have completed one purchase and one sale worth a combined £216 million. They have agreement from Lemar to join them should Monaco consent to sell the France international for what is expected to be a fee of €90 million. Liverpool are also looking at adding more money to the €65 million already committed to Leipzig to bring forward the transfer of Naby Keita.
Serious money for a ‘stepping stone’ club that is verging on three decades without a League title. Yet in comparison to Barca, PSG and City still decidedly second-tier.
Main category: SportsTags: PSGBarcelonaManchester cityfootballsoccertransferrelated_nodes: Coutinho Barca start delayed by injuryCoutinho signing shows Kane cannot be forced to stay at Spurs: Pochettino’No choice’ to let Coutinho leave Liverpool: Jurgen KloppNike advertise Philippe Coutinho Barcelona shirt

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