Elite clubs will prey on desperate ones in the hunt for bargains as the game reels from its biggest financial hit since the 1930s
Even at the time – in 2017 – the fee Paris Saint-Germain paid Barcelona for Neymar was extraordinary: £198m was 125% more than the previous record, set a year earlier when Manchester United had signed Paul Pogba from Juventus. Transfer records simply aren’t broken by that amount in the usual run of things. It was a statement signing, a deal designed not only to land the player, but to emphasise PSG’s financial power, to highlight their status as a super-club while inflating the market to a level at which only the mega-rich could compete.
Three years on, with football suspended across the globe and major leagues desperately seeking ways to get games on to stave off financial apocalypse, the world looks very different. A model predicated on constant growth has received an abrupt shock.