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One of the most unprecedented transfer sagas in soccer history keeps getting more unprecedented.
La Liga, the Spanish top flight league, has refused Paris Saint-Germain’s payment of $263 million to trigger the buyout clause for Barcelona star Neymar. Officials reportedly said they don’t believe PSG is acting lawfully under the Financial Fair Play rules set forth by UEFA, the governing body of European soccer.
UEFA, however, issued a statement denying they would take any immediate action. It reads, in part: “The transfer of Neymar to PSG will have an effect on the club finances over several years but the impact of such an operation cannot be judged in advance … We shall therefore only make calculations at the end and make sure that they respect the rules.”
As part of the FFP guidelines, clubs must demonstrate they do not have net losses of over €30 million over a given period of three years. PSG could sell some of its other stars in order to limit the spending on Neymar, which is expected to eclipse half a billion dollars when the buyout clause, weekly wages, etc. are agreed upon.
La Liga president Javier Tebas accused the French giants, who are backed by a Qatari ownership group flush with cash, of “financial doping” in an interview with a Spanish newspaper. However, the LFP, France’s soccer governing body, issued a statement of its own that says it’s “surprised and does not understand the refusal” to accept the payment.
Buyout clauses are legally mandated by La Liga and they must be deposited directly to the league, which then sends the money to the club selling the player. The likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid set the buyout clauses so high for their stars — back in 2015, Cristiano Ronaldo’s agent hinted his client’s was over $400 million — that it almost always deters other clubs from paying the full asking price.
Neymar, however, is a unique story. He’s apparently more than willing to leave Barca and get out from under Lionel Messi’s shadow, although it must be said there have been no reports whatsoever of animosity between the two. And Neymar is just 25 years old and about as complete an attacker as you’ll find on the planet. So players of his caliber don’t become available very often, and Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho even chimed in to say such a high valuation shouldn’t be considered expensive for the Brazilian.
Neymar reportedly arrived in Portugal on Wednesday to have his medical with PSG, and it doesn’t appear La Liga’s actions will do much in the short term to block the move. PSG had hoped to welcome Neymar to the French capital and formally announce him as the club’s newest signing over the next day or two. The Ligue 1 season kicks off on Friday, and PSG opens against Amiens SC on Saturday.
So it seems despite the stunt, Neymar will still depart Barcelona for Paris. But in this transfer saga, it’s unwise to rule out more crazy developments.
More soccer coverage from FC Yahoo:
• Messi bids farewell to Neymar with heartfelt Instagram post
• Why Neymar might be worth that $255 million price tag
• Morata departs La Liga for reigning Premier League champions