Neymar and buyout clauses

PSG is circling, allegedly, and the rumors won’t stop, allegedly, as all eyes are focused on Neymar. Will he stay or will he go?

People have gone so far as to speculate about what the fact that he was the next to last player off the plane means, body language and facial expressions.

The latest, of course, is that there is no latest. The original rumor began with a Brazilian journalist who many people sideeye. Them one outlet picked it up, then another. And we’re off to the races. Unai Emery said that Neymar is in the “top 5 or 6” players in the game, and that of course PSG would need a talent such as that.

A great many culers are embracing the potential sale, and throwing around various names, as if replacing the second-best player in world football will be easy.

The biggest grumble, it seems, is that Barça has set Neymar’s buyout clause so “low.” There is an excellent piece on Spanish football buyout clauses here. But the basic reason that Neymar’s clause is not “low” is that his transfer would probably run something around a half-billion Euros if the price were met.

This is, of course, because in Spanish football the player has to, in effect, buy out his own contract, which means the transaction is subject to Spanish taxes, etc. (BTW, no player has ever taken a club to court yet for an extravagant buyout clause, but don’t be shocked if it happens in the future.) A 222m clause should, in theory, make a player non-transferable. But something has happened in football, or a number of things, that will soon make the sport fiscally untenable.

A Yahoo Sports piece on the Neymar rumor said that after the PSG loss to Barça Qatar gave the club 220m to spend on transfers, plus whatever could be raised from sales. If true, think about that for a second. Manchester City once had an eye-goggling transfer summer of 120m. “Normal” transfer summers for big clubs will be around 100m. A 220m kitty is stupefying, which leads to the biggest change in world football: petroteams.

PSG, despite its Parisian roots, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Qatar and the efforts that country is making to build buzz up to its World Cup. Qatar has money, atop money, atop money. 220m is nothing to a petrodollar rich sovereign nation, which changes everything.

When the Verratti rumors popped up, a few of us said they were nonsense because PSG don’t ever have to sell a player in order to raise funds. Debt doesn’t matter, salaries don’t matter. They can always get more money from an inexhaustible kitty. Neymar’s rumored salary is 30m AFTER taxes. That would be double what he makes at Barça, for those keeping track. PSG is also negotiating with Verratti for a contract extension, even though the player just signed one last summer.

For a petroclub such as PSG, no transfer is out of the question. Messi’s fee is 350 million or so. A pittance for PSG. So when a club puts a 222m price tag on a player such as Neymar, it should, in a normal world, make him untransferable.

It could well be argued that Florentino Perez had foresight when he slapped a billion Euro clause on Ronaldo. At the time, people laughed, pointing to Messi’s clause as being something more like “reality,” because who the hell could swing a (in the case of Messi) almost billion-dollar transfer? But the rules have changed.

Even Premier League teams such as City and United, flush with TV contract cash, were rumored to have talked to Neymar. But they wanted to get the price down to something “sensible,” say under 150m.

Money has changed the game to an extent that thinking people fear for its future as players change hands for astonishing sums. Because Barça is a traditional club that relies on sponsorships and other revenue forms for its money, the day is fast approaching where the club will be limited, where it won’t, fiscally, be considered a big club. That will be the province of the petro clubs and the sugar daddy clubs, whose owners can call upon deep pockets to make the kinds of transfers happen that make big players in effect, baubles passed among monied patrons.

Second-tier clubs such as Barça will have their pick of a second level of players. So instead of Neymar or Mbappe, they’d be chasing Douglas Costas, players whose fees will be able to be managed. And then, aside from the rare exception, the Champions League would become even more of a closed society.

PSG poached Dani Alves from City by offering him more than half again his City offer. Who wouldn’t take it? But this is putting the game itself in danger. What can a team reasonably set a clause at? Two billion? Would a player consent to such a clause, assuming that he is thinking of future mobility?

A buyout shouldn’t bind a player to a club. To my view, clauses are almost useless because if a player wants to leave, and I mean really wants to leave, would a high clause stop that and would a club want to stop that? Let’s say Verratti had been hell bent on making rumor reality. What could he have done? Refused to play for PSG? Talked and talked to press outlets to make his dissatisfaction clear? Tanked it on the pitch?

An unhappy player is toxic. A team should want him gone as quickly as possible. Supporters say, “That’s fine, but make someone pay for it.” That’s fair, but what is a fair valuation for a player? Neymar’s clause is more than two times his original transfer fee. Should a clause, simply enough, be the full value of a player’s contract including wages? Or is a clause psychological, as in, “We love you THIIIIIS much!”

Look at Thiago Alcantara. Had the club played him more, his clause would have jumped from 25m to 60m. But when Pep Guardiola came calling, what would have happened? Would the player have shrugged and said, “But my fee,” and resigned himself to continuing to wait for Xavi and Iniesta to retire? Or would Mazinho have started rumblings? A club should never want to keep an unhappy player, no matter who they are.

If Neymar wants to go chase money at PSG, good riddance. The romantic in me doesn’t want a player who doesn’t want to be at Barça. When new signing Nelson Semedo was asked about his decision, he said, once he heard that the Barça rumor was real, he was done. There was no other club. Same with Umtiti.

Many argued when I suggested that Neymar wasn’t going to be a Barça lifer, that at some point he would want to run his own team, something that was going to be impossible as long as Messi was in the house. My initial estimate was three seasons. Happily, he has made a liar out of me. But he’s 25, and understands that if he is going to make a move, assuming there is a shard of veracity to a rumor, now is the perfect time, and for double his salary. And if he wants to do that, good riddance.

Yet in the big picture, football has a money problem and there doesn’t seem to be a solution. There is no structure set up to control a club such as PSG, because a team being a subsidiary of a cash-rich sovereign nation has never before happened. What do you do when you put a rule such as FFP into place, but a club doesn’t care? Fines? Sure. Here ya go. Accounting tricks can shift sums around, sponsorships can be raised. PSG is sponsored by the Qatar Tourism Authority, whatever that is. At present, the value of that fee is somewhere around 300m Euros per season, but the cash pot is in fact bottomless.

Combine that with the Premiership enjoying the proceeds of a bumper new TV deal and paying absurd sums for players whose talent don’t argue for high prices, and it’s clear that there is a money race going on, one that can only lead to the bottom. What happens to PSG when the World Cup comes, and Qatar is done with its plaything? Recall the debacle at Malaga when its sugar daddy decided to pull up stakes. BeIN Sports? The programs and teams that lured Xavi to Qatar?

The club would have a roster of high-priced, high-salaried players who no club could afford. Then what? What next as teams break banks and get loans to buy players that might at least give them a reasonable shot at keeping up with the Joneses. Clubs start going bankrupt and soon, football is a mess.

By Kxevin

In my fantasy life, I’m a Barca-crazed contributor over at Barcelona Football Blog. In my real life, I’m a full-time journalist at the Chicago Tribune, based in Chicago, Illinois.


  1. Good article. It is worth noting that Spanish tax laws were changed last year so that taxes are no longer applied to release clauses. The cost of Neymar would be 222M and no more than that.

  2. Great article. Money aside, you have to wonder what would attract Neymar to PSG. They are still far from being one of the world elite sides, Lique 1 is not considered one of the top leagues in the world, and they consistently fail at the CL level. Neymar is still so young, why would he want to take a step down? Especially since he will probably end up getting stuck there, PSG would never sell him, as they have shown with Veratti, they make it close to impossible for players to leave. Yes he may want to step out of Messi’s shadow, but he is still very young and there is time for him to do that at Barca. We have already seen a shift in Messi’s position on the pitch and I think we will see more of that over the coming years, allowing Neymar to take more responsibility and be more the attacking focal point. Even if he was adamant that he needs to move on, PSG? Really? I just do not see how that is the best place for him to become the best in the world, maybe the richest.

    Personally I still think all of this is nonsense, a bit of payback from PSG for unsettling Veratti. Leak a story that they are going to pay the buyout fee and fan the flames. A bit of a middle finger to the Barca board.

  3. The pace of things is accelerating. RAC1 is reporting that talks are “very advanced.” Radio Monte Carlo, an odd voice to weigh in, says that Neymar’s father will be in Paris to finalize the deal with PSG over the coming days.

    Neymar is still silent, except for saying “I’m fine,” when asked about his situation.

    It’s all still rumors at this point, but RAC1 is real. Note that MD, the mouthpiece, is silent.

  4. If there’s one interesting thing I learnt from this article. Its that Qatar will most likely pull out of PSG after their world cup leaving all high profile players in their team stranded and they start fasting for all the money the fed fat on.

    It will be interesting considering Neymar is still 25 and will probably never win a CL in a PSG shirt or even reach a god status he so much craved for.

    Personally I don’t care of he leaves. I only care that our sleeping board will probably not be able to replace him.

    1. Sleeping board or not, what Neymar brings to the pitch right now isn’t really possible to replace. There’s one player who is an upgrade over him, and he already plays for us. The other players at his position who are (nearly) as good as himself can only be taken from their clubs by masked men bundling them into black vans in the dark of night, and not by transfer negotiations.

      The owners of PSG may have deep pockets, but I wonder about the timing, If they are willing to spend 200+ million on a single player, why haven’t they already done so in previous years? It’s not as if the Qatari have gotten rich only recently. They did spend a lot of money, but this would be another dimension altogether.

  5. No matter how good a plate is, you can t force them to remain at a club who’s board members have not vision or footballing policy.

    If all small players that normally jump at the slightest opportunity of playing for barca and academy players that used to wait endlessly for opportunity to feature for the first team are now avoiding barca like a plague what do you expect from a highly ambitious player who wants to win the balon d’or at all cost. Even Messi considered leaving the team. Does that not say a lot about what is happening with the club.

    The fact that I said it doesn’t border me is not because I don’t believe in him. In fact I love him more than any player on our team except Messi.

    One has to accept that a player cannot stay at the club for life so you have to worry more about the continuity of the club when he is gone but in a situation where even the continued success of the club it shaky, you have to be worried about that more than a player that will eventually leave the club either you like it or not.

    In a but shell, there are more issues to be worried about than the potential departure of Neymar and that issue is of the useless board.

    The last time I said here on this site that barca is leaking front, back, left, right and center someone said I should be optimistic rather than perssimistic. Please what is there to be optimistic about.

    Since I’ve been supporting barca, no player that barca loves has ever left barca or even threatened to leave. Even Guardiola once said it that barca don’t sell it’s best players it either they don’t want you or you’re not good enough. also alluded to that fact in one of their articles on this Neymar BS that barca is not known to letting their best players leave or their best players forcing a transfer.

    But here we are. Its almost as of it’s happening on a daily bases. it has being happening in the barca academy now it’s about to hit the first team.

    Should I still be optimistic?

  6. Neymar is not leaving, It makes no sense, Personal wise, Sporting wise, Or financial wise.
    Even if all the planets aligned and this, 1 in million chance event did occur, Somehow, Barca will still come on top, I mean, 220m for a single player!!?, I’ll gladly take it, And with a big smile on my face, As any sensible person would.
    End of story.

  7. Looks like Neymar is gone. Word is that father signed papers in Paris. Only speculation now is how the massive fee will be handled. Qatar personal sponsorship, straight money deal or what.

    Same source that broke the story says that PSG will make Neymar pay his own clause so as to avoid FFP sanctions. But he doesn’t realize that in Spanish football, the player always pays his own clause. The question is where will the money come from that he will use to pay it.

  8. Thanks for the article Kxevin!
    I’m not familiar with the legal and tax implications of Spain right now, but if what Levon says is true then 222mn for probably top 3 player in the world right now and a future BD’or winner is a STEAL. for PSG and a disaster for Barca, One thing people fail to realise is that clauses arent just meant to deter potential suitors for a player, its also meant to allow a club to buy a solid replacement and then some. In the current market who would replace Neymar? Right now any player would be a downgrade.
    I don’t get how people are happy with 220mn for us losing basically one of the top 3 players in world football atm..that 220mn would lead us to be weaker with a marked loss in quality upfront. Now i hope I’m proven wrong and our board does carry out some insane transfers and strengthens 3-4 positions to such a degree that we don’t miss Ney, but looking at our track record is not a pretty sight.
    My main issue is that Madrid are able to command 1Bn buyouts for players while we are only able to ask for a quarter of that.. Please tell me I’m not the only one that is seeing this…

    1. You’re missing a crucial point, Which is, The only reason we’re getting this 220m is because the player FORCED his way out, Unilaterally, And a player who does that, Is a player NOT committed to the club to begin with, A player we’re better off without, What is the point of having this supposedly 2nd or 3rd best player in the world, If his mind and priorities isn’t with us, Day-dreaming about the sea of money he’ll have at another club.

      A disaster will be if he left for 80m because of low buy-out clause or nearly finishing his contract duration, But 220m for a player willing to force his way out?, That’s a steal!, For us…..

    2. Sure Ney is forcing himself out (or his father is anyways), That doesn’t mean we need to bow to any offer being sent to us unless it helps us get better in the long run.
      Sure having 222mn for a player willing to force his way out is a steal from a financial standpoint, the issue is we stand to gain NOTHING and lose a lot from it in a sporting standpoint, we lose his qualities and chemistry with our teammates that would be hard for even another purchase be it Dembele/Mbappe/Dybala to match.
      Not having a buyout clause, or having one similar to madrid’s would mean we could negotiate with PSG for asking for Verrati+Marquinhos+$$$ for Neymar or incite a bidding war for him with other clubs like Man U etc.
      The issue isn’t the money, it’s about having a large enough buyout clause to ensure Barca has a say in the transfer matter of any player. (would we rather have 222mn$ rather than possibly a deal where Neymar went to PSG for Verrati+Marquinhos+$$ ?? right now PSG has no obligation to allow us to even look at Verrati.

      “RM policies and fees of buy-out clauses are no different than ours.”
      I beg to differ, if we look at the buyout clauses currently, The entire BBC forward line for RM is having TWICE the buyout clause value of Messi (each of them have clauses worth 500mn$ or above)
      Hell, even Toni Kroos is valued at the same level as MESSI.
      Ronaldo isnt a one – off exception, and buyout clauses higher than 200mn aren’t remotely ludicrous once you value the marketability and sales someone like Neymar could provide.

      “The only difference between 200m and 1Bn is the ego inflation” well.. The difference is 800m , and sure people would argue that nobody would pay 800mn for a footballer which I’d agree with, but the fact is we already have a club willing to pay 200m which basically means in a year or 2, 200mn will be the last few year’s 100mn for Bale type deal. and it would really reflect on the Myopic vision of our board/negitiators and if this continues, we could essentially stand to lose Messi and Ney in the next couple of years to a PSG or Man City and lose our edge as one of the usual favourites for CL football.

      Clauses aren’t meant to be helpful for the players to force a way out, its meant for the club to have a say in where the player goes giving the club a chance for negotiating other options like a player+$$$ move from PSG for Verrati . (RM constantly have clauses in the players they sell to be worth twice or thrice their value to Barca or have a clause where they can’t sell the player to Barca altogether)

      The figures I got are from though, so maybe I might be having some numbers wrong so anyone with the right numbers, feel free to correct me!

    3. RM policies and fees of buy-out clauses are no different than ours, Ronaldo is the only exception, His 1Bn buy-out clause is a “symbolic” in every-sense of the word, Done to inflate his ego, Because any buy-out clause larger than 200m is considered ludicrous and impossible to meet in the world of football, The only difference between 200m and 1Bn is the latter one inflate one’s ego much more.
      PSG is an aberrant anomaly in footballing world, And that’s what kevin has talked about in his article, They in theory have the capacity to render all of these “impossible” 200m clauses into a possibility.

  9. “No matter how good a plate is, you can t force them to remain at a club who’s board members have not vision or footballing policy.

    If all small players that normally jump at the slightest opportunity of playing for barca and academy players that used to wait endlessly for opportunity to feature for the first team are now avoiding barca like a plague what do you expect from a highly ambitious player who wants to win the balon d’or at all cost. Even Messi considered leaving the team. Does that not say a lot about what is happening with the club.”

    Nail. Hammer. Head.

    The painful thing is that it does not only make sporting sense for Neymar personally, steppping out from under Messi’s shadow that would last until Ney himself is approaching his 30s, it also makes sporting sense in terms of team success.

    If Barça had made better moves the last two transfer windows this team would not be in decline. With a club set to continue the world domination the foootballing world had gotten used to, it would have been that much more difficult for Neymar to leave.


    “I don’t get how people are happy with 220mn for us losing basically one of the top 3 players in world football atm..that 220mn would lead us to be weaker with a marked loss in quality upfront. Now i hope I’m proven wrong and our board does carry out some insane transfers and strengthens 3-4 positions to such a degree that we don’t miss Ney, but looking at our track record is not a pretty sight.”

    Personally if we get either of Dembele or MBappe, I’d be happy. Probably too much to hope for. Rumor mill says we will go for Dybala instead.

  10. I dont think Kevin says about a transfer unless its happening, even if he have had to change his opinon in a matter of few days.
    It will be a pity if Neymar is leaving. I even think, it will be a career mistake .
    He had a better player than him, who was unselfish enough to let him steal the limelight. He would have got tons of balls from the greatest and could have scored tons loads of goals and win the BDor.
    Or he hates playing against parked buses, which are routine for a Messi team. ha ha.
    Anyways, Brazilian player fathers are a tough group.
    So what will the board do now, buy 50 Douglas?

    1. I had to laugh about your last sentence. I now can’t help imagining poor Neymar on the pitch, trying without success to dribble past 50 Douglas clones. Every time he nutmegs one, another one appears and launches a tackle…and another…and another. Maybe in this day and age where football is mostly entertainment and glamour, we should simply get rid of the 11-players-rule and see which club can spend the most money on flooding the pitch with as many players as they can pay.

    2. Sorry, this unappreciative tone is one of the reasons Ney is leaving in the first place.
      If my memory serves me correctly, there are matches where Ney carried this team too. Remember the comeback of comebacks?
      No matter what he does, if the team win its due to Messi’s genius. And whatever success he had its due to the grace of Messi and his unselfishness.
      Lesser footballer might want to join Barca for the trophies, but not Ney.

  11. Personally I am incensed with Neymar. You want out, fine; you do not dabble in these shenanigans every freaking year. I am a bit fed up by all this. When the news broke out, my first impression was that it’s PSG paying us back for the Veratti approach. But with every passing hour (imagine that, not even every passing day) it seems more likely that Neymar is forcing his way out. Purely Business wise it’s a good piece of business. We got him for about 90 million and now we sell him for 220 million. But I think our chances of taking the champions league from the whites just diminished quite a bit. Here’s hoping there’s another twist in the tale and we keep him. If not, I hope we look at a certain Dybala.

  12. I have always wondered how will the rest of the squad view this. Especially Messi and Suarez. Even if he stays, won’t there be cracks in the relationship. I mean I doubt that after all this if he plays for us this season it will be business as usual. Footballers like all human beings must be aware of what’s happening around them right! Do you think this will destabilize the relationship nonetheless?

  13. Neymar’s silence over the past few days speaks volumes and I have to say I do not like the way he is managing the situation one bit. He is either playing a game to work his way to another improved contract, or he genuinely has his head somewhere else. Either way frankly, he can walk as far as I am concerned. I have always been one of his biggest fans, and till a few days ago I was sure this was all rubbish and just PSG trying to get one back on us. Now I am having some pretty serious doubts. If the guy wants to leave, then he should have done it earlier in the summer, giving the club time to plan accordingly. Doing it now, as preseason is just starting, well it just shows zero appreciation for the club or his teammates. If this is some sort of game he is playing to try and ensure a better contract over the next year or so, again, there are better ways to go about things. Reminds me a bit of the way Rooney acted a few years ago with Utd to get his big pay day.

    As far as I am concerned as soon as a player has his head somewhere else, we are better off selling him. For me he is already the second best player in the world, but I wouldn’t care if he was the best player in the world, if a player wants out, good riddance I say. 220m + the existing transfer budget can buy you a lot of great freaking talent. Maybe not a like for like, sure, but we already have Messi (who is still a god) and we still have Suarez. There are plenty of young, talented players we could buy to fill that 3rd spot – Dembele, Dybala, Mbappe. Here’s an idea, why not bring Sanchez back? Hazard would be another good option.

  14. Thanks for your article Kxevin. It’s interesting to note that PSG have a fair few players in their squad which have been our main transfer targets over the past many years and we’ve struggled to get any of them. It’s easy to look at these missed opportunities and think that there’s a problem with how the club is being run or that players don’t find the club appealing enough. We’ve managed to sign many key players from other teams with greater prestige.

    It seems more evident that PSG and other cashed up clubs just have that greater financial power in comparison to Barcelona. Almost like any big club in comparison to a mid-tear club.

    We keep trying to sign big name players from clubs who just don’t need to sell. It doesn’t hurt to try but we will almost always come out disappointed and anxious after coming out without a deal.

    So what should our club do going forward?

    Should we keep trying to obtain the next ‘trendy’ player to fill up our squad? or should we focus on improving areas that oil clubs will never be able to compete with?

  15. if neymar goes, that will confirm the slow decline of the allure of barca over the years thanks to dickface Rosell and the board that subsequently took over. It is remarkable how tarnished the image of barca has become and the disgusting inability of the management to do what is necessary to keep and attract the best players. All you really have to do is step out of the way and leverage the romance barca as a brand already enjoys. just pathetic.

    but this rumour sounds weird. one can go to psg only for 2 reasons – the city and money. but is the city really that much more awesome than barcelona? and is he really after money? he is likely to mint the endorsement scene staying at barca or going to United or madrid. Not PSG. just dont understand this.

    if he goes though TO PSG, that says more about his character than barca it must be said. Going to united, or city or Bayern or madrid even, makes sense.. why PSG?

    1. If you check psg team, there are 4 of his Brazillian teammates already on the rooster. Considering his personality, Ney wants friends, not just coleagues. He had Alves, but the board kicked him out for free. He wanted Coutinho, but that deal is going nowhere especially when the board either dont want to spend, or dont have the money to spend.
      You either get a consumated professional or the best of best, but you rarely get both in a single footballer. The bests have their quirks and you have to accept them. If I were in his shoes, I would think that: ok, if im appreciated, i will stay, but if not, i will go to where i will be appreciated instead.
      Most people consider him Messi’s bitch. Both fans and board. Even some players. That’s enough to piss anyone off.

  16. As for why PSG really want Ney, its their statement signing. That they are no longer a second tier club, that they are serious about winning trophies.
    Also to tell Veratti that hey, we can have the best players too, stay here to win trophies with us instead of moving somewhere else to be someone else’s bitch.

  17. Honestly in pissed right now.

    The fact that neymar is going which is largely due to a poor football policy by the board is on one side but the reason I’m pissed is because even if barca gets 1billion from the sale of Neymar, this useless board would most likely still not get what the team needs.

    Neymar is going, we are probably getting 222m from his sale and the next thing you start hearing is that the club is considering going for dybala or coutinho.

    First do these bunch of clueless idiots really think coutinho would sign for barca with neymar and alves gone?

    Secondly is dybala -who just sign a new contract few months ago- the next thing we should waste the money on? When we actually need a good central midfielder and someone that could actually play on the left. Should that be our main priority? considering we still have Arda Turan, Gerard delofeou, Denis Suarez who could all do a decent job on that left while even Andre Gomez was not that bad playing in that position a few times last season.

    Thirdly, it was on this site that I made a comment that I was angry that Jordi Mboula is being allowed to leave for cheap. That was a player that could have easily sloted into neymar position given the fact that we now have a coach who nurtured a young Inaki Williams.

    Suddenly the need for a central midfielder has now being forgotten and the new rave is to try and replace Neymar with players would most likely not come or if they come, won’t fit in to that position or won’t even solve the biggest problem we have presently – Central midfield.

    I don’t even think anyone from the club hierarchy has called Neymar to try and pasuade him not to leave. Same thing that Thiago Alcantara alleged before deciding to go to bayern.

    Honestly I am more worried about the future of this club than all this Neymar saga. I’m really really worried.

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