Paris Saint Germain left the world shocked when it bought the Barcelona star and Brazilian captain Neymar for a record fee of 222 million euros. Yes, Neymar has proved his mettle as a player at 25 is probably about to hit his peak but that sort of amount for an individual was unheard of. So what made PSG splash so much money for just one player? Well, PSG is owned by the Qatar Sports Investments, a branch of the state-owned Qatar Investment Authority. The company had bought PSG five years ago for $170 million with an aim to turn it into a football powerhouse.
The acquisition was a part of the kingdom’s larger strategy to invest in global brands, whether in business, fashion, property or sport. In last five years, the club signed players like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Angel Di Maria, Edison Cavani, Lucas and Thiago Silva for an incredible amount of money. The transfer strategy started to show in the results as PSG won back to back seasons without threat.
However, the European Glory stayed away. The best PSG could do was reach the semi-final of the UEFA Champions League, demanding a change in approach and arrival of few fresh legs. To compete with Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich, PSG realised they needed to spend heavily. Maybe the club realised that Neymar could be the man who can change the club’s fortune.
— Neymar Jr (@neymarjr) August 1, 2017
Another side of the story is that there were voices asking FIFA to shift the venue of 2022 World Cup but with Neymar’s arrival, Qatar has shown its strength. “In the current context, Riyadh and its allies would be pleased to see FIFA withdraw the organisation of the 2022 World Cup football in Qatar,” Jean-Marc Rickli, director of global risks at the Geneva Center for Security Policy told a French website. “The arrival of Neymar allows Doha to assert its role in the politics of sport on a global level and especially in football.”
Coming back to the money part, well, it never mattered. Neymar’s total value including wages, taxes and fees is $600 million but for a country that has reserves in excess of $300 billion a and population of 313,000, this amount is just a drop in the ocean.