The soccer world has been on the edge of its collective seat recently, as Barcelona star Neymar has been linked to a record-setting move to French side Paris Saint-Germain. Neymar is arguably the best player in the world not named Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo, so him heading anywhere is a massive deal.
On Thursday, the move became a reality, as Neymar officially joined the Parisian giants. Between his buyout clause (an unfathomable 222 million Euros) and his various wages, including 30 million Euros a year before taxes and a hefty signing bonus, Neymar is the most expensive footballer ever.
In fact, before the move become official, SportsCenter tweeted out an insane graphic that shows Neymar’s price tag compared to 10 of the best basketball players on earth. The catch: Those 10 basketball players — including LeBron James, Steph Curry, James Harden, and Russell Westbrook — are all combined, and they don’t come close to the projected amount of money spent on Neymar.
So on the surface, yes, this is completely insane and it puts into context the massive amount of money that PSG spent on Neymar. He’s extremely good, could very well end up being the face of the sport in the not-too-distant future, and was always going to cost a ridiculous amount of money to lure away from Barcelona.
But digging deeper, this is a really bad comparison. Soccer is a sport that is more or less pure capitalism. There are no limits on what can be spent, and there is no limit on what a team can give a player. There are things like Financial Fair Play that theoretically exist to level the playing field, and you can read about how they could be applicable in this transfer here.
Anyway, PSG could pay whatever they wanted for Neymar, save for his pre-set buyout clause, which they obviously matched. Basketball teams, of course, have to exist within a salary cap that is set by the league. It’s why, say, Curry can sign a supermax deal with the Warriors worth a then-record $201 million over five years, but LeBron can then come out and say that Curry is underpaid and be 100 percent correct — the NBA having a salary cap means that players are limited in what they earn, even if they bring in an insane amount of money.
Soccer is just a completely different sports when it comes to finances than basketball. Still, Neymar cost a lot of money, so go Neymar. As we said, he’s extremely good.