Barcelona hosted Chapecoense at Camp Nou in the Joan Gamper Cup in a celebration of the Brazilian club, which was devastated by plane crash in November that killed 71 of the 77 passengers, including most of the squad and staff. An emotional first kick from survivors Jakson Follmann and Neto had some holding back tears but when the match began, there was no holding back Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and the Catalans in a 5-0 victory for Barcelona on Monday.
Barcelona, a club not used to losing star players, accepted the largest transfer fee of all-time as Paris Saint-Germain funded the release clause for Brazilian striker Neymar on Thursday. The $263,480,000 fee didn’t just shatter the old record, it eviscerated it, more than doubling the $117.6 million Manchester United paid for Paul Pogba.
In a statement Thursday, Barcelona announced the fee to trigger Neymar's release clause had been paid by Neymar and his father, making the Brazilian attacker a free agent.
Barcelona's statement in full:
There is a myth that jersey sales can help recuperate the transfer fee for a new player, that a player’s popularity can overcome a high asking price for a player. The fact is, Neymar’s $263 million release clause to leave Barcelona for Paris Saint-Germain will hardly be dented by the French club selling a few more jerseys.
Let’s take a look at some numbers.
Meet Amine Harit, a French U-20 attacking midfielder who just arrived at Schalke 04 via Nantes for $9.5 million. He's not a global sponsor for Nike, Gillette, Panasonic or Beats by Dre, he's never had his own custom Air Jordan sneakers or been featured on the cover of Pro Evolution Soccer, but he remains one of the brightest attacking talents in world football today.
The transfer saga embroiling Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and Neymar reached a crescendo on Wednesday, although only the most ardent of Neymar and Blaugrana supporters wouldn’t have seen it coming. Barca released a statement confirming Neymar’s desire to leave the club for around $263 million, and Neymar informed his teammates of his decision before missing the day’s training session.
The start of major European leagues looms and fans are anxious to see how their teams fare on opening weekend. But how much does the first match even matter? After all, it's a long season and teams have plenty of time to rebound from week one losses. Or do they?
Looking at the statistics, it appears that the first game can set the tone for an entire season. It can either give a burst of confidence or present an omen of troubles ahead.
While Neymar hasn’t entirely exited Barcelona, he has shown himself the door at Thursday’s training session in Miami. With Barca slated to play Real Madrid Saturday in a friendly, Neymar’s bust-up with new signing Nelson Semedo is exactly what the tabloids craved.
Atletico Madrid are in Mexico for a series of friendlies, and manager Diego Simeone is finding the country to his liking. The Argentine, known for his intensity and his being linked to seemingly a different club every week, has built Atletico Madrid into a powerhouse despite limited resources compared to rivals Real Madrid and Barcelona.
He also has a bit of an adventurous spirit, judging by his comments regarding a potential move to Mexico.
The hype for the 2017-18 La Liga season has been decidedly low-key, and for good reason. Is there really any stopping Real Madrid? The club’s loss of Alvaro Morata hasn’t exceptionally weakened them, and capturing Kylian Mbappe would mean that we’re about 20 years away from parity being restored to European competition.