Neymar is headed to PSG for a Record Breaking amount of money $222 million. Wow the transfer fees are getting unbelievable – and this certainly took some time – but honestly I have no issue with Neymar wanting to break out on his own and try move himself from the 3rd or 4th best player in the world to 1st. At Barca he was always going to play second fiddle to the legendary Messi. At PSG – if he can help lead them to the Champion League Finals or Semi-Finals even – he will prove his worth. The EPL and World League Seasons are right around the corner with the German Super Cup (Dortmund – Pulisic facing Bayern Munich) on Sat 2:30 pm on Fox and the Community Shield with Arsenal vs Chelsea Sunday at 9:30 am on Fox Sports 1. The French/Ligue 1 season also starts this weekend with PSG hosting Amiens SC Sat at 11 am and Olympique Lyon vs Strasbourg at 2 pm both on beIN Sport. (See season preview below).
I watched the MLS Allstar game with great interest as I was really hoping to attend. It rained so I am actually glad I didn’t go but it was a fine game and I was happy to see MLS tie the game late 1-1. I was a little disappointed Real didn’t have more starters – start the game. But everyone basically played and it was entertaining with some great saves to keep it low scoring. Great to see a sold out stadium and the highest TV audience #s ever for a MLS Allstar game. Video Review starts this weekend in MLS – (great story below on its development led by Reffing Superstar Howard Web) – it should be interesting to see how it plays out in important match-ups this weekend including the triple header Sunday with Portland hosting LA Galaxy Sunday at 2 pm on ESPN, and the NY Derby NYCFC vs NY Red Bulls Sunday 6 pm on FS1.
Great bounceback for the US ladies as they pounded Japan 3-0 late Thursday night in the League of Nations Cup. Next chance to see the ladies will be at Nippert Stadium in Cincy – tix are on sale for the US vs New Zealand game in Cincy on Tues Sept. 19 at 7:30 pm. Also the NWSL – Women’s league still has games on Lifetime every Sunday see the Soccer TV Schedule below for times and games.
The Indy 11 return home with a 1-0 record in the Fall Season as they host FC Edmonton on McDonald’s Family night at the MIKE this Saturday night at 7:30 pm and on MyIndy TV. Huge Contrats to Cinncinati FC as they defeated NASL Club Miami FC last night to advance to the Semi-Finals of the US Open Cup. They will host the NY Red Bulls next Tues night, Aug 15 at 8 pm at Nippert Stadium. (Tickets are in the $50 range)
Carmel FC Goalkeepers – Training will begin on Tuesday, Aug 4th at Shelbourne Fields with GK Coach Shane Best, DOC Matt Coyer and a Surprise new Professional Goalkeeper!!
U11-U12 – Boys & Girls 6-7 pm U13+ above 7- 8 pm
Congrats to those who made their High School teams this week – Carmel FC is well represented at both Carmel and Guerin High Schools this season! I know at least 8 of our former Goalies made their squads. Good luck on the season.
The Carmel High School Boys soccer team Hosted their annual Day Camp on Friday, Aug 4 as over 30 campers were on hand for training and a good time.
Adidas Signs Record Deal with MLS
Video Review Starts with MLS this Weekend Howard Web Takes Control
Indy 11 + Locally
GAMES ON TV
Sat, Aug 5
11 am beIN Sport PGS vs Ameins SC (French)
2 pm beIN Sport Olympique Lyon vs Strasbourg (French)
2 pm Lifetime Portland Thorns vs Houston Dash (NWSL)
2:30 pm FOX Dortmund (Pulisic) vs Bayern Munich (German Supercup)
7:30 pm Myindy TV + beIN Sport Indy 11 vs FC Edmonton
Sun, Aug 6
9 am Fox Sport1 Arsenal vs Chelsea (EPL Community Shield)
11 am ESPN2 Women’s European Champ Netherlands vs Denmark
4 pm ESPN Portland vs LA Galaxy
6 pm Fox Sport 1 NY City vs NY Red Bulls (NY Derby)
8 pm Fox Sport 1 Sporting KC vs Atlanta United
Tues, Aug 8
2:45 pm Fox Sport 1 Real Madrid vs Man United UEFA Super Cup
Fri, Aug 11 — EPL Starts
2 45 pm NBCSN Arsenal vs Leciester City
Sat, Aug 12 EPL Starts
7:30 am NBCSN Watford vs Liverpool
10 am NCBSN Chelsea vs Burnlee
10 am CNBC Everton vs Stoke City
12:30 pm NBC Brighton vs Man City
7:30 pm Lifetime Orlando Pride vs Sky Blue (Women’s)
7:30 pm beIN Sport Miami FC vs Indy 11
10 :30 pm Fox Sport1 LA Galaxy vs NY City FC
Sun, Aug 13
8:30 am NBCSN New Castle United (Yedlin) vs Tottenham (Carter Vickers)
11 am NBCSN Man United vs West Ham
2 pm beIN Sport? Barcelona vs Real Madrid – Spain Supercup
Sat, Aug 19 German Bundesliga/La Liga/Serie A Start
7:30 am NBCSN Swansea vs Man United
9:30 am Fox Sport 1 Wolfsburg vs Dortmund (Pulisic)
10 am NBCSN Liverpool vs Crystal Palace
12 noon beIN Sport Juve vs Cagliari
12:30 pm NBC Stoke City (Cameron) vs Arsenal
12:30 pm FS1 Schalke vs RB Leipzig
3:30 pm Lifetime North Carolina vs Washington Spirit (Women’s League)
Sun, Aug 20
8:30 am NBCSN New Castle United (Yedlin) vs Huddlestown
9:30 am FS1 Freiburg vs Frankfurt
11 am NBCSN Tottenham vs Chelsea
12noon FS1 Borussia M’Gladbach (Johnson) vs Koln
4 pm beIN Sport? Deportivo vs Real Madrid
9:30 pm FS1 Seatle vs Min United
Mon, Aug 21
3 pm NBCSN Man City vs Everton
3 pm beIN Sport? Crotone vs AC Milan
2017 MLS All-Star Game vs. Real Madrid sets new TV viewership record
August 4, 20171:41AM EDTMLSsoccer staff
Wednesday night’s 2017 MLS All-Star Game, which featured a dramatic finish vs. European champions Real Madrid in front of a sellout crowd in Chicago, will go down as one of the biggest soccer events in league history.The TV viewership numbers tell the story.The league announced on Thursday that the match between the MLS All-Stars and Real Madrid set a new all-time viewership record for an MLS All-Star Game as 2.1 million viewers across the USA and Canada combined to watch the event.That audience surpassed the 2011 MLS All-Star Game involving English giants Manchester United, according to Nielsen and Numeris research.Here’s the breakout of the 2.1 million viewers:
- Univision/UDN (USA): 1,484,000
- FS1 (USA): 420,000
- TSN (Canada): 97,000
- TVA Sports (Canada): 96,000
The match, which was played in front of a sold-out crowd of 61,428 at Soldier Field, was also broadcast in more than 170 countries around the world.
MLS All-Stars unfazed by shootout loss to Real Madrid on memorable night
August 3, 20172:09AM EDTJohn WilkinsonContributor
CHICAGO – Stefan Frei had already turned around to wave to the 61,428 fans at Soldier Field and say thank you, thinking he had helped the MLS All-Stars to a 1-1 draw against the champions of Europe, when he was all of a sudden informed that “no, no we’re going to PKs” and there had to be a winner in the 2017 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target.“Honestly I didn’t even know that it would go straight to PKs,” Frei said the All-Star Game, which Real Madrid won on penalty kicks. “I thought the game was over, and we’d end in a tie so I’m going to call FIFA rules on that and we’ll stick with a tie.” When asked if that meant that MLS Cup 2016 – which Frei helped Seattle win on penalties – should have been a tie, he went the other way.“Well, no on that particular one there needs to be a winner,” he said. “And I’m thankful that [in] that PK one I was on the right end of.” Even if penalties did help him win a title last year, Frei said he’s never been much of a fan of ending matches with a shootout, even if he did understand the reason for them on Tuesday.“I think it’s one of the most horrible ways to end a team sport,” he said. “I said that even when I was at the other end against Toronto. Somebody is going to have to be the one that misses and then that’s not what football for me is really about, but the spectacle for the fans I guess.”The All-Star Game got to penalties thanks to Dom Dwyer’s late goal. The second-half attacking group of Dwyer, Nemanja Nikolic, Diego Valeri, Miguel Almiron and Giovani dos Santos, seemed to combine well even before creating the goal, with Nikolic coming close to scoring a couple times before Dwyer finally got the equalizer.“It was fun. [We tried] to keep it simple, to be honest, keep it simple, try to find the passes, movements,” Valeri said. “I think we did some good movements overall in the second half. It wasn’t easy because they got the goal and they put on the field some fresh guys and some very – you know Bale, Marcelo, Benzema – it wasn’t easy, but I think it was fun and we created some chances.”While a club team might have a set pecking order of penalty takers, head coach Veljko Paunovic picked the shooters for the All-Stars.“Blame me, of course,” Paunovic said. “It’s unfortunate. PKs you never know. I think emotions – we had a drain of energy in the second half because given the circumstances of this kind of game, some guys had to run more and some guys less. But what was good for me was the reaction. We showed character and I think that the effort was appropriate and I think overall the image was good. And at the end when you came to the point where you have to go to PKs it’s not easy for the guys after they had to spend a lot of energy. And that’s it. They tried the best, for sure, for sure.”With the friendly nature of the match, the two All-Stars who made their penalties – Valeri and Almiron – said they didn’t feel much pressure.“No I wasn’t nervous, I was very secure that I wanted to go down the middle,” Valeri said. “It’s to enjoy to be honest, it’s very friendly.”It was just the second time the MLS All-Star Game had been decided by a penalty shootout. The only other was in 2009, when Frei’s current All-Star teammate Tim Howard helped Everton beat that year’s MLS side. Despite being on the losing side – or not, in his mind – Frei left Soldier Field happy with the experience. “It’s an honor when you get to play against – I mean, I’ve played against legends before, I’ve played with legends before, but tonight I was able to play with legends against legends,” Frei said. “It’s a huge, huge honor. Really cool crowd in a really awesome stadium and something I think a lot of these guys here will cherish for the rest of our lives.”
Neymar on joining PSG from Barcelona: I followed my heart
PARIS — Neymar said he followed his “heart” after sealing his €222 million move to Paris Saint-Germain from Barcelona. Neymar became the world’s most expensive player after PSG opted to trigger his buyout clause and told reporters at his unveiling on Friday: “My heart told me that it was time to sign for Paris Saint-Germain.”The 25-year-old enjoyed a successful four-year spell with Barcelona, winning one Champions League, two La Liga titles and three Copas del Rey as well as one FIFA Club World Cup and one Spanish Super Cup, but he said he was relishing the new challenge.”I am very, very happy,” he said. “I cannot describe what I am feeling in my heart right now. I am here to help the team to win as many titles as possible. I have come to take on a new challenge and to win titles.”I have friends in Barcelona, it was not easy to leave. However, football can be like that. It was the most difficult decision of my life to leave Barcelona but I felt like it was the right moment to leave.”I have friends here in Paris and I already feel at home here. I was very happy during four years in Barcelona. I am not sad, I won lots of titles.”A source has told ESPN FC that Neymar will be paid around €30m per year after taxes and has been handed a major signing bonus in excess of his net annual sum.Told that some people think he moved just for the money, Neymar said: “Well, what I can say to these people is that they don’t know anything about my personal life. I was never motivated by money. It was never my first motivation.”What I think about is my happiness, together with my family. I want us to be happy. I must follow my heart, not considering the money. If I was following the money, I would be somewhere else with different teams in different countries.”I am really sad to think people think that way. I would like to thank PSG as they believe in my potential and I want to pay them back.”Lionel Messi had posted a heartfelt farewell message to Neymar this week, and the Brazil forward rejected the suggestions he wanted to leave to step out of Messi’s shadow.”No, quite on the contrary,” he said. “One of my motivations to play for Barcelona was to play alongside Lionel Messi — he was my role model.”There was no pressure at all, only during the first week during Barcelona I was worried about training with my role models at the time. That was a lot of pressure but after that first week I felt relaxed and in my own environment.”To play with the best is very easy actually because all the players, all the players in the world, want to play with the best players to win titles together. I would like to thank Lionel Messi because he welcomed me so well, I learned so much from him in four years together.”Neymar has built up his fitness during Barcelona’s preseason and said he was ready to make his PSG debut in the Ligue 1 clash with Amiens on Saturday.”I am ready to get started from tomorrow,” he said. “If it is possible, let’s do it!”I have seen Parc des Princes and I am itching to pull on my new shirt and play. I have not spoken with the coach about whether I will play or not, where I will play or if he wants me to play yet.”He said he does not fear the weight of expectation after PSG broke the world transfer record.”To be the most expensive player in the world does not concern me or weigh me down,” he said. “I am still the same weight as always, I have nothing on my back.”PSG chairman and CEO Nasser Al-Khelaifi, appearing alongside Neymar at the news conference, said he viewed his new signing as the finest footballer on the planet.”I am very happy to present our big star, an idol to the whole world,” he said. “We have always wanted Neymar. He is the best player in the world and now he is ours.”There had been suggestions that PSG had targeted Neymar in response to Barcelona’s pursuit of their key midfielder Marco Verratti earlier in the summer.However, Al-Khelaifi said: “We did not buy Neymar because Barcelona wanted Marco. We simply wanted the best player in the world.”PSG have faced questions about whether they can now adhere to UEFA’s financial fair play rules, with La Liga president Javier Tebas saying he would file a complaint to the governing body and the EU over the transfer. “You are talking about financial fair play — we have been very transparent,” Al-Khelaifi said. “We have been from day one, and we will be until the last day here with UEFA about financial fair play.”There is no problem. I have a strong team with me working day and night working applying the regulation on the financial fair play.”However, if anyone is thinking about financial fair play I tell them please: go have a coffee and don’t worry about us, we are in good hands. Thank you.”He said the deal had improved the value of the club, explaining: “Before Neymar, PSG were worth €1 billion. With Neymar, we are now worth €1.5bn.”It is a transfer that has cost a lot today but that will surely not be the case in two years’ time…”He also defended Neymar against suggestions he had moved for financial reasons, saying: “If he was motivated by money, he could have gone elsewhere. He has come for the project.”PSG have made no secret of their desire to win the Champions League but Neymar said they would also have to work hard in Ligue 1, having lost their domestic crown to Monaco last season.”I have heard people criticise Ligue 1 but I do not agree with that,” he said. “I have spoken with others who have played here and I have learned that there are no easy matches. We are here to win titles.”He added: “We want to win the Champions League but other titles as well. We are here to write the club’s history.”Jonathan Johnson covers PSG and the French national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @Jon_LeGossip.
Neymar’s record-breaking move: What it means for Barcelona, PSG and more
There’s a veritable kaleidoscope of vantage points from which to consider the transfer of Neymar da Silva Santos Junior, aka you-know-who.We’re not just talking the most expensive footballer of all time; we’re talking a guy who cost more than a quarter of a billion dollars. That’s Paul Pogba plus Cristiano Ronaldo with enough left over to cover their wages until Christmas.This is not, as some have suggested, the end of football as we know it. It’s either a bold, game-changing move from Paris Saint-Germain or a colossal blunder by folks with more money than sense or, perhaps, something in between. Yet the web of implications is so far-reaching that it’s worth looking at this deal from various perspectives.
This is probably more of a psychological setback than a footballing one. It’s the third time a buyout clause has been used by a rival club to swoop into the Camp Nou and make off with a prize asset. Twenty years ago, Inter Milan showed up with $27 million — don’t laugh, young readers, it was a world record at the time — and secured the original Ronaldo, the “Phenomenon”. In 2000, Real Madrid made off with Luis Figo for $74m, launching the Bernabeu’s “Galactico” era.Ronaldo was the reigning World Player of the Year and had yet to turn 21; you’d be hard-pressed to find a player not named Pele who had achieved so much at so young. Figo, meanwhile, was 28 and one of the best wingers in the world, but Madrid weren’t buying potential with him; they were simply rubbing the opposition’s noses in it.On the pitch, Barcelona can likely reload pretty quickly without Neymar. Not in terms of finding the heir to Lionel Messi, but in coming back as one of the best teams in the world. It’s going to be expensive — $262m is a lot to have burning a hole in your pocket and potential sellers will want a big chunk — but, if done right, it can be pretty painless.And, perhaps, simply having Messi and Suarez, instead of the much-vaunted MSN up front, will give new coach Ernesto Valverde more tactical freedom. The bottom line is that Barcelona won before Neymar’s arrival, they won with Neymar and they’ll likely win again without him.Where it does hurt is inside. The Barcelona that lost Ronaldo and Figo was not today’s Barcelona. Those sides weren’t among the top three or four in the world and the footballing landscape wasn’t as polarized as it is today. The message here is that a superstar wanted to be elsewhere and that’s tough to swallow.Equally tough to accept is how this came about. It’s not as simple as saying Barca ought to have set a higher release clause; it’s about misreading Neymar and Co. when he signed his new deal less than a year ago. Particularly when Barcelona knew full well how his camp — read: his father — operates.
This is like getting the top draft pick in the NBA lottery and choosing the best player available, rather than drafting for need. PSG’s squad is already teeming with attacking midfielder/winger types like Julian Draxler, Angel Di Maria, Lucas Moura, Hatem Ben Arfa, Javier Pastore and Goncalo Guedes.Sure, Neymar is better than all of them — and you can never have too many great players — but in terms of resource allocation, figuring it all out won’t be easy. If they move some on, as you suspect they will, they’ll do so as “motivated sellers,” which knocks down the price. There’s a lot there for sporting director Antero Henrique and manager Unai Emery to sift through and not much time in which to do it.Some draw a parallel with the 2012 signing of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who helped deliver four straight league titles and quarterfinal finishes in the Champions League. He put PSG on the euro-superpower map, but you’d imagine Neymar would need to do better for his signing to be defined as a success.That’s a tall order and it likely will depend as much on those around him as it does on Neymar himself. At 25 years of age, how much better can he realistically get?
Let’s start with an anecdote. While in Brazil for the 2013 Confederations Cup, I flipped on the TV. It went to a commercial break and five of the seven ads featured Neymar. He was 21 at the time, already the undisputed leader of the Selecao and he was ubiquitous. It’s pretty obvious that whatever runs through his veins is positively reptilian; few superstars in any sport handle pressure and scrutiny with his level of aplomb.Maybe that’s why there is some stock in the theory that this move isn’t just — or, only — about Euro signs. Maybe he really wants to be the superstar on a successful team he can call his own (something that won’t happen at Barca as long as Messi is around).Is it gullible to give him the benefit of the doubt? I’m not so sure. He’ll certainly earn more at PSG but it likely won’t be “move-the-needle” type more. Not compared with the opportunities that come with being a Brazil and Barcelona legend.And there’s a flip side: This move is not without risk. PSG, in terms of exposure and prestige, aren’t in the same hemisphere as Barcelona, particularly if they underachieve. A couple more seasons like last year with no Champions League football in April could see his mantle of heir apparent to the Messi-Ronaldo crown slip, even if he performs well with Brazil.Whatever you think of Neymar, this does not seem like something motivated chiefly by greed or manipulation; this is a superstar wanting to really challenge himself, rather than continue in a supporting role.In other words, I want to believe these words are genuine.
Financial Fair Play
Forget the hysterical reaction from La Liga and Catalonia and forget discussion of covert payments to be the “face” of Qatar 2022 and other such nonsense. FFP hasn’t been “relaxed.” It’s still around and it’s very real (just ask Roma or Inter or Galatasaray). And, if PSG can’t afford Neymar without breaching the requirements, we’ll find out.It’s just that we won’t know until the fall of 2018, when seasons 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2017-18 are cumulatively assessed, whether PSG violated FFP rules, which dictate that no more than $35.6m can be lost over three seasons, though some expenses and revenues aren’t included in the FFP calculation.And that last part is crucial. PSG’s official accounts show a profit of $12m for 2015-16 but that’s largely irrelevant because more than a quarter of their revenues came courtesy of a sponsorship deal with the Qatar Tourism Authority, worth some $240m. UEFA found the amount to be grossly inflated and discounted it by around 50 percent.They have the power to do the same if things don’t add up. And, by the way, spending $262m on Neymar doesn’t mean a $262m hit in their accounts. Transfer fees get amortized over the life of a contract, which means it will cost them a fifth in his first year.Throw in his wages and you’re looking at north of $100m which, while still a frightening number — Messi is costing Barcelona half of that — is possibly more manageable if you’re smart with your sales and you squeeze out commercial revenue properly.
Europe’s governing body has a wide scope of interpretation when it comes to “related-party transactions” — basically, anything that can be traced back to Qatar, since Neymar’s new employers are effectively owned by the country — and there’s no clever sleight-of-hand to get around it.If UEFA suspect a sponsorship is inflated they get experts involved, who compare it against industry benchmarks and comparable clubs and assess a fair market value. That’s what they did in 2013 when PSG and Manchester City were sanctioned along similar lines.Back then clubs were offered a “settlement agreement” — basically a plea bargain — where they agreed to certain fines and restrictions as punishment. If other clubs don’t believe the “settlement agreement” is stiff enough, they can appeal it and send the case to the Club Financial Control Body’s Adjudicatory Branch, who have sweeping powers and are entirely independent.That’s key here. In 2013, not least because it was the first year of FFP, some felt that PSG and City got off lightly but there were no complaints to UEFA. It’s hard to see that scenario occurring again, not with Barcelona and other big clubs likely to exert pressure on UEFA. And particularly not now that they happen to be, officially, business partners in the Champions’ League and Europa League.
Some fret over the “football bubble” bursting, but we’re not talking dotcoms or even tulips. When FFP was introduced in 2010, European clubs were losing, on aggregate, nearly two billion dollars a year. Now, those losses are down to just over $300m.You don’t need to be an economist to know that it’s OK to spend more if you’re earning more money; Barcelona’s revenues, for example, have gone up nearly 70 percent in the last seven years. The vast majority of Europe’s richest clubs — the ones who spend big on transfer fees — have seen comparable rises. What’s more, most of them are profitable.It’s not as if, because Neymar costs $262m, Ingolstadt or Atalanta or Celta Vigo will suddenly need to spend $20m to sign a decent right-back. What happens at the top of the market does not trickle down to the middle classes any more than a hedge fund manager blowing $1.5m on a Lamborghini Diablo means the man in the street not being able to buy a family sedan for $30,000.What’s more, markets have a way of correcting themselves, particularly now that we have oversight. Contracts expire and players — read: assets — can be sold. This is neither the end nor the beginning of the end.Instead, it’s a massive deal caused by very specific and unusual circumstances. Football will be just fine.Gabriele Marcotti is a Senior Writer for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @Marcotti.
Neymar’s Transfer from Barcelona to PSG Defies Belief on All Levels
JONATHAN WILSONThursday August 3rd, 2017 Sports Illustrated
Even in this summer of mind-boggling transfers, when it seems the entirety of football has lost its collective senses and that jaws couldn’t fall any lower, the transfer of Neymar from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain for a fee of $263 million, more than double the previous world record, has taken those jaws down into the basement.It’s a complex move, a five-year deal to sign the 25-year-old Brazilian star, and one that defies belief on almost every level.Barcelona was helpless, however much it wanted to hang on to Neymar, now that PSG has met his buyout clause, but it could have never expected anybody to pay that. This raises the question not only of why Neymar would want to leave a club that over the past decade has enjoyed extraordinary success while redefining the tactical parameters of the game to join a club that has never got beyond the quarterfinal of the Champions League, but also how that club can possibly afford it while complying with financial fair play regulations.Let’s begin with the relatively simple bit: why Neymar may want to leave. Money, obviously, is a major factor, as, perhaps, is the assiduousness with which the Spanish tax authorities have begun investigating players. Last year a Spanish court found him guilty of tax evasion and fined him $66 million, reduced to $33 million this year on appeal.There are, though, football reasons. Although ostensibly the front three of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar get on well, perhaps there is an element of frustration that, for now, the Argentine remains the headline figure. Neymar is five years younger than Messi, and there were signs even last season that he might soon become the main man, but there would probably still be a sense that this was Messi’s team. At PSG, Neymar will be the undisputed No. 1. It’s easy to see why the idea of being the player who, at last, brings PSG to its first Champions League title might appeal.That may enhance his chances of winning the Ballon d’Or, an individual award that was once a side issue but now seems to dominate the thoughts of gifted young players, but the issue is far from clear. The award may be based in France, but no France-based player has topped the voting since Jean-Pierre Papin in 1991.Neymar’s good friend, Dani Alves, who has been savagely critical of the Barcelona board and its treatment of players, is also now at PSG after a season at Juventus.And if the French league is slightly less demanding than the Spanish league (which is far from certain) in a World Cup year, that is no bad thing either.
How, then, can PSG possible afford not only the initial fee but also wages likely to be around $600,000 a week for five years? That is where this deal gets really interesting. PSG, after all, is bankrolled by Qatari Sports Investment, the sovereign wealth fund representing the Qatari royal family. With the falling oil price, there has been widespread retrenchment in Qatar and even talk of imposing a tax system. Over the past two seasons, PSG has made only two major signings, Julian Draxler and Angel Di Maria.Smashing records to land Neymar, then, is a major departure so abrupt that it’s hard not to wonder whether it may have less to do with football and PSG than with Qatar making a statement. Over the past two months, Qatar has been engaged in major diplomatic wrangling with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain following accusations that it supports terrorism. Its response has been to strengthen ties with Turkey and Iran and to emphasize its continuing economic might; it is, after all, the country with the highest GDP per capita in the world. Shattering the world transfer record is about as a high a profile a way as possible to let the world know that Qatar is still rich.In that context, it may not be a coincidence that Barcelona’s deal with Qatar Airways came to an end on June 30, with the Japanese e-commerce firm Rakuten taking over as shirt sponsor. It’s probably going a little far to see this as a punitive measure, but what is true is that Qatar’s football interests are now all focused on one club.That still doesn’t solve the issue of financial fair play–PSG was sanctioned in 2014 which in theory means a potential second offense–and it would seem likely there will have to be sales. Di Maria and Marco Verratti perhaps are the most likely to leave.In simple terms, Neymar leaving Barcelona will weaken Ernesto Valverde’s side and raise further concerns about its aging core, while all but guaranteeing PSG another French title, particularly with Monaco weakened by departures this summer.But Neymar’s move is about far more than that.
Ligue 1 preview: Neymar has arrived, as champions Monaco are dismantled
After a wonderful 2016-17 season, Ligue 1 is bracing itself for yet another top campaign. Can a weaker Monaco retain their title? Can anyone stop Paris Saint-Germain and Neymar? Marseille are stronger, Lyon have done their revolution, Nice have been clever again, Bordeaux look interesting, Lille and Marcelo Bielsa are exciting, as are Claudio Ranieri and Nantes.Ligue 1 has found itself a new King in Neymar, will meet new faces (Bertrand Traore, Youri Tielemans, Luis Gustavo and Thiago Maia) and old ones (Steve Mandanda, Adil Rami and Mario Balotelli). It also lost, as usual, some of its best talents (Tiemoue Bakayoko, Corentin Tolisso, Bernardo Silva, Ricardo Pereira, Benjamin Mendy, Alexandre Lacazette, Adam Ounas, Amine Harit and Sebastien Corchia) and more might follow (Kylian Mbappe, Thomas Lemar, Fabinho, Angel Di Maria, Jean Seri, Yann Karamoh and Dalbert.)
PSG with Neymar. What a difference 12 months can make. Last summer, PSG approached their transfer window in a more low-key way. Zlatan Ibrahimovic left and the club tried to do a clever recruitment more than a glittering one. Jese, Hatem Ben Arfa and Grzegorz Krychowiak arrived and all failed. This summer, Paris went big; bigger than anyone else ever. They signed Neymar for €222 million and free-agent Dani Alves, and kept their other gems, Marquinhos, Edinson Cavani and Marco Verratti.Right now, at least domestically, they are untouchable. Manager Unai Emery has learnt a lot from last season. His team’s second part of the league campaign, where they took more points than any other, shows that they have improved and got a grip on what he was asking his players to do. PSG are way stronger than last season. With Neymar and Alves, they are probably the best team ever assembled in French football history.Mbappe in or out? After the Neymar saga, French football has another one on its hands: Kylian Mbappe’s future and with him, Monaco’s future. The 18-year-old prodigy has had an exceptional rise since January. Some reports in France say that he wants to leave the French champions and that the club are demanding €180m to let him go. Are Real Madrid or Barcelona ready to pay that much? Probably. Mbappe is such a special talent and his final decision will have a huge impact on the Ligue 1 season.Obviously, Monaco will be a totally different team with or without him. After already losing Mendy, Silva and Bakayoko, as well as Valere Germain and Nabil Dirar, it would be another huge blow for the Principality club to lose their gem. Whatever happens to the young France international, it will be a transition season for the Champions. They saw the end of their golden generation and are rebuilding the next one. Radamel Falcao is still there, and, for now, so are Lemar and Fabinho.The League of Gentlemen. If the English Premier League is still, without a doubt, the home of the world’s best managers, Ligue 1 also has a very interesting lineup of No. 1 coaches on its benches. The best manager in the world, according to Pep Guardiola, is Bielsa and two years after leaving Marseille, he is back in France. He will try to lead Lille to new heights.Monaco’s Leonardo Jardim worked wonders last season, but it is a much bigger challenge that awaits him this year. Emery has to start well at PSG after a disappointing campaign last year. Lucien Favre was wanted by Borussia Dortmund in the summer but stayed in Nice after an excellent first season.Ranieri, sacked by Leicester last season, chose Nantes to continue his career. Rudi Garcia at Marseille has a solid reputation, and Bordeaux’s Jocelyn Gourvennec is the most promising young French manager around. It will be interesting to follow Oscar Garcia’s first season at St Etienne and Christian Gourcuff’s second at Rennes. On the other hand, Bruno Genesio still has a lot to prove at Lyon.
Neymar, Barcelona to PSG, £198m Who else? He is the biggest transfer in the history of football. The Brazilian superstar has chosen PSG and Ligue 1 to pursue his career after deciding to leave Barcelona. He will bring his new club and his new league to another level. At 25, he is expected to make this team his own.
Luis Gustavo, Wolfsburg to Marseille, £7m Marseille needed a leader in midfield, strong, solid with great experience and a winning mentality. They found the perfect one in Luis Gustavo, 30, the former Bayern Munich and Brazil defensive midfielder. Alongside Mandanda in goal, Rami at the back and Germain up front, also all recruited this summer so far, Marseille went for experience and leadership and had an excellent transfer window.
Youri Tielemans, Anderlecht to Monaco, £22m
After selling some of their key players, Monaco are rebuilding a competitive squad and they believe the Belgium international, 20, represents the future of the club. The French champions will want him to replace Bakayoko and dictate the way Monaco will play this season. With his vision, the quality of his passes and quick feet, he has everything to be a huge success.
Alexandre Lacazette, Lyon to Arsenal, £46.5m
It was always going to happen. After spending pretty much all his life at Lyon, Lacazette, 26, left his club and his hometown for a big transfer to Arsenal. In six seasons in Ligue 1, Lacazette was the best French striker with 129 goals in 275 matches. With him, Tolisso (Bayern Munich) and Maxime Gonalons (Roma) also left, meaning the end of an era at the club.
Benjamin Mendy, Monaco to Manchester City, £52m
Eighteen months ago, he was not even always starting for Marseille. Now, Mendy is the most expensive defender in the history of football. His move to Manchester City capped a wonderful season with Monaco where he also broke into the France national team. At 23, he is in the top five left-backs in the world and seems to have no limits.
Amine Harit, Nantes to Schalke, £9m
As usual, Ligue 1 has already lost some of its brightest and youngest prospect this summer. Harit, 20, the wonderfully gifted Nantes attacking midfielder, U19 European champion last summer with France, left for Schalke after just one season in Ligue 1. Adam Ounas, 20, joined Napoli from Bordeaux for more or less the same amount, like Jean-Kevin Augustin, 20, arriving at RB Leipzig from PSG.
Who will win the league?
Now that PSG have their superhero in Neymar, and while Monaco can still lose theirs in Mbappe, the French title is Les Parisien’s to lose this season. They are the outstanding favourite to regain the crown they abandoned to Monaco last season after four coronations in a row previously. PSG simply look unbeatable at the moment.Behind them, four teams will fight for second and third places: Monaco and Lyon are in transition after losing key players while the Marseille project is interesting under Garcia with some solid signings. Nice and Balotelli are still so talented and exciting. Outside of this top five, Lille, Rennes, Bordeaux or St Etienne could be the season’s surprise package.
Battle at the bottom
Last season offered a dramatic fight against relegation with almost 10 clubs involved until very late in the campaign. It should be the same this year. The three promoted teams (Amiens for the first time, Troyes after one season in Ligue 2 and Strasbourg who haven’t play in the top flight since 2008) all look in danger. But Dijon and Metz will not be far off either, while Caen and Angers have to be careful too.Julien Laurens is a London-based French journalist who writes for ESPN FC and Le Parisien. Follow him on Twitter: @LaurensJulien.
Indy Eleven Gameday & Match Preview
Indy Eleven vs FC Edmonton – #INDvFCE Saturday, August 5, 2017 – 7:30 P.M. EST Carroll Stadium – Indianapolis, IN
- National TV: beIN Sports USA Local TV: WNDY
PICKING UP WHERE THEY LEFT OFF
Opening the 2017 Fall Season with a 2-1 win over the Eddies last week, Indy Eleven welcomes their Canadian foes for the Fall Season home opener this Saturday.With the win on Sunday, Indy is now riding a six-game unbeaten streak that has seen them pick up three straight wins dating back to the July 8 match against the New York Cosmos. Now ahead of back-to-back road trips to Miami and New York, the “Boys in Blue” are faced with another 2016 Championship Semifinal rematch against FC Edmonton, who sit in 7th place in both the Fall Season and combined standings.
WHO TO WATCH INDY ELEVEN EDITION: DF DANIEL KELLER
Indy Eleven defender Daniel Keller has been an integral part of Indy’s solid defensive record this year, playing in 16 of Indy’s 17 matches so far and earning 14 starts in the process. The Carmel, IN native has already well surpassed his 2016 season total in games played and minutes featured and has matched his 2015 total of 16 games played (11 starts).Stepping up at the back, Keller has won 13 of 18 tackles this year and over half his aerial and ground duels while also collecting 37 interceptions. Keller and his oft-partnered defender Colin Falvey have eerily similar numbers, though Falvey has won a slightly higher amount of his duels. Expect the pair to be locked down again when Edmonton comes for the Fall home opener.
WHO TO WATCH FC EDMONTON EDITION: FW TOMI AMEOBI
For Indy, the main threat up top will again be forward Tomi Ameobi, who scored a goal in their 2-1 loss last weekend in his 100th appearance for the club. Ameobi has five goals in 17 appearances for the Eddies this year and showed why he is such a threat in the box on Sunday night. A dominant forward in the air, the 6-foot-3 185 lb. tower showed both his physicality and ability to play with it at his feet. With the likely return of defender Colin Falvey to the starting line-up, it will be interesting to see if Ameobi is still able to win as much off of the cross.
MATCH-UP TO MARK: MF BRAD RING vs MF BEN FISK
It will be defense-minded Brad Ring against attacking midfielder Ben Fisk again this weekend after the pair dueled last Sunday. Ring was a perfect stopper in the midfield in the Fall opening win, completing 26/38 passes but more importantly winning 100% of his tackles and 67% of his duels while collecting two interceptions to thwart the Eddies attack. Ring was often the key to cutting off direct access to Ameobi’s feet while helping to cover wide when one of midfielders Sainney Nyassi or Ben Fisk would fly forward. Ring’s likely marker this weekend will be the latter of the two mentioned above, Ben Fisk. The wide midfielder was credited the assist on Ameobi’s goal last weekend and was a spark in the 66 minutes he featured in. Creating three clear-cut chances for his side, Fisk will look to get a bit more of a run out on Saturday night.
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