This time last year the football world was still reeling from the astonishing €222 million capture of Neymar by Paris Saint-Germain.
It was a stunning coup by the French side, taking a player destined to become one of the world’s best from one of the footballing super powers that PSG aspire to be.
Barcelona were dumbstruck and, as a result of that particular deal, have been careful to ensure much higher buyout clauses for their best players.
Since that fateful day, the Catalans have arguably gone from strength to strength however. Ousmane Dembele still has a lot of growing to do but was a solid capture from Borussia Dortmund, whilst Philippe Coutinho hit the ground running following his move from Liverpool.
Indeed, Barca were a whisker – well, one goal – away from going an entire league season unbeaten, and but for an off night in Rome, could well have completed another treble in 2017/18.
Neymar on the other hand has seen things go from bad to worse.
Spats with Edinson Cavani and others didn’t endear him to his team-mates, and an ill-timed injury against suitors Real Madrid in the Champions League ended his season prematurely.
Since then, his father and advisors have allegedly been doing their utmost to end his French fancy and become another Los Blancos galactico.
Histrionics in the World Cup have done nothing to endear him to the public, and when he starts the new Ligue 1 campaign, it will be interesting to see how he fares in front of his own supporters given that it seems he’s done everything possible to extricate himself from their company.
Given that his move to Paris was apparently to escape the shadow of Lionel Messi and to become a Ballon d’Or contender, it’s fair to argue that it hasn’t quite worked out as planned given that he didn’t even make the Top 10 for FIFA’s own award ‘The Best,’ nor was he a finalist for the World Cup Golden Ball.
His move is still affecting the transfer market in ways that didn’t seem possible beforehand. With the greatest of respect, even some journeyman professionals are being sold for ridiculous sums of money.
It threatens the game at the lower end of the scale as the gap widens between the top flights in each country (English Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, Serie A and Ligue 1) and the rest.
A European Super League has long been considered and, like it or not, the way that the market has changed makes it almost inevitable that the richest clubs will break away at some stage.
Certainly, it’s going to take a very brave CEO at one of the top clubs to put his or her head above the parapet and say enough.
Are we really getting to the stage where we could be looking at €250m or more for the world’s best players?
In the case of Neymar himself, it may well take an offer of €300m or more to prise him back to Spain.
When on earth is this going to end?