Foot

Neymar transfer means money for everybody ... except the French taxman

Neymar shows off his skills on arrival at PSG
Neymar shows off his skills on arrival at PSG RFI/Pierre René Worms

Brazil forward Neymar de Silva Santos was not able to play in Paris St-Germain's first French league match of the season Saturday. But fans were delighted at their team’s purchase and PSG was quick to cash in that enthusiasm.

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Neymar's international transfer certificate failed to meet a midnight deadline, so he was unable to take to the field on the day after his arrival in France.

But he would watch the match against Amiens from the stands, the league said, once he had been presented to fans at Parc des Princes.

The 25-year-old became the world’s most expensive footballer this week after joining the Ligue 1 club for a record fee of 222 million euros. He will reportedly earn more than 30 million euros net per year during his five-year contract.

While the record sums have raised eyebrows, the Qatari-owned club and its loyal fans are banking on Neymar taking PSG to the top.

Neymar poses with admirers on Friday
Neymar poses with admirers on Friday RFI/Pierre René Worms

Neymar’s arrival on French soil in a private jet on Friday generated a lot of excitement.

President Emmanuel Macron, not renowned for his love of football, called it “good news” and spoke of Neymar adding “attractiveness” to France.

A special tax regime for “impatriates” means Neymar will not be contributing a penny to the state coffers, however, according to lawyer Jérôme Commerçon, writing in business paper Les Echos.

155 euros a shirt

For PSG fans, the Brazilian is the star name they’ve been waiting for to bring long-awaited glory to their club.

“I’m a huge fan of PSG and it’s a big day for our club,” said Sofiane, one of 1,000 or so fans queuing up at the PSG official shop on Friday to buy a PSG shirt with their new Number 10.

“I’ve come all the way from Algiers specially. Neymar is a world class player and he’s going to help our club get into the Champions league. We’ve been waiting for this for years,” he added.

PSG wasted no time in exploiting Neymar’s commercial value, announcing on Thursday evening they’d be selling shirts bearing his name from 10am Friday morning. They soon ran out and fans had to wait up to four hours.

Neymar fan Sébastien Faudouas
Neymar fan Sébastien Faudouas Alison Hird/RFI

But it seems no wait is too long, no price too high, for a bit of Neymar.

“I’ve been a fan since he began, so I’m very glad and looking forward to seeing him on TV,” said Sébastien, brandishing his newly-purchased bright yellow shirt with the name NEYMAR emblazoned in navy blue. A snip at 155 euros.

“My favourite player before was Ronaldinho, now Neymar, so I’m extremely happy and 155 euros for a T-shirt it’s cheap,” he laughs.

The shirts are just one way in which Qatari-owned PSG stands to recoup its investment. And it's off to an impressive start. A staggering 10,000 shirts bearing the Brazilian's name were sold on Friday alone.

PSG profits from sales

“For each jersey the club can make between 30 and 40 euros”, so estimated sales of around one million a year will already “earn you at least 30 million euros”, says Vincent Chaudel, a sports economist with Wavestone Consulting.

The supplier contract with Nike, currently up for renegotiation, could yield an extra 50 million euros Chauvel explains, and the contract with sponsor Fly Emirates could bring in an additional 40 million.

Neymar meets the media on arriving in France
Neymar meets the media on arriving in France RFI/Pierre René Worms

Chauvel says there’s little doubt the Neymar transfer is a good idea for PSG, the French football league and the footballer himself.

“Of course it’s a huge amount but with this type of deal you will have huge revenues. It’s like a top player like Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi, they can attract many media, many fans, many sponsors.”

But with France going through economic crisis, some people find the millions involved in this deal a bit hard to swallow.

'Money-machine" criticised

Alexis Corbière, spokesperson for the hard-left France Unbowed party, has described the payments as “unhealthy” saying football had become a money-machine that showcases just “how crazy the world has become”.

Aurore, a 26-year old female PSG fan queuing to have her shirt printed admitted she was bothered by the huge sums.

The man with the shirt
The man with the shirt RFI/Pierre René Worms

“I love football but there’s too much money in the game,” she commented. “They get paid too much for kicking a ball around. We could do far more useful things for humanity with that money.”

Chaudel admits France is “not comfortable with such large amounts of money” but football is a global business and if you want to play with the big boys you have little choice over the figures.

“When you have a player like Neymar, there are 60 million fans all over the world on Facebook. So it’s [about] a worldwide brand, not a player,” he says, citing the fact that even the club at the bottom of the premier league will earn 130 million euros for TV rights.

“It’s becoming crazy, I agree with that, but that’s it. We can’t be alone to stop this system. So we just have to play with the others or not.”

Player must deliver on field

Speaking to the press on Friday, Neymar denied he’d transferred to PSG for the money saying he was “really sad that people still think that way and glad that PSG believe in [him]”.

The star shows he has a way with a ball
The star shows he has a way with a ball RFI/Pierre René Worms

Chaudel agrees that now it’s up to Neymar to deliver on the field.

“PSG need a player like Neymar to win the Champions League so it’s not a question of price for them, it’s a question of sporting ambition. And for Neymar it’s the same. Of course he will earn a lot of money but his aim is not to be rich, his aim is to be the number one of the world. And if he stays in Barcelona, he will never be number one of the world, until Messi retires.”

Not everyone is thrilled about Neymar’s move to PSG. Unsurprisingly perhaps, Spanish newspaper El Mundo described it as a "state signing" in reference to the involvement of Qatar, currently locked in dispute with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, in the deal. PSG is owned by Oryx Qatar Sports Investments and the country is keen to boost its image ahead of hosting the 2022 World Cup.

And Neymar’s father, a former footballer himself, didn’t support the move. But, thankfully for PSG fans, the player defied his old man.

“A sportsman needs challenges. And for the second time in my life, I am going against the advice of my dad,” Neymar wrote on his Instagram account on Thursday night.

"If I was following the money, I would be somewhere else, with other clubs in other countries. I'm really sad that people still think that way and I'm glad that PSG believe in me."

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