The loophole that could see Neymar return to Barcelona
- Here we explore how Barcelona can pluck out Neymar right from under PSG's noses.
- There is a FIFA clause Neymar can use to force his way out of PSG.
August 4, 2017. The day one of the most sensational transfers in history was confirmed. PSG paid FC Barcelona the €222 million buy out clause to sign Neymar, arguably the third-best player in the world at that time. This move saw Neymar become the most expensive player in football history.
It would be fair to say that no party has benefitted from this deal. Unless PSG manages to win the Champions League this season, their investment would not have borne the fruit they wished for.
Neymar's niggling injury issues coupled with him being wrapped up in one controversy after the other has only resulted in bad PR. Neymar personally seems to have taken a step in the wrong direction. He went to PSG in an attempt to win the Ballon d'Or but has failed to even make it to the top three since his move. The Brazilian's argument of wanting to come out of the shadow of Messi also seems futile as he is now overshadowed by teammate Kylian Mbappe at PSG.
Barcelona too seems to have lost out majorly. Since Neymar's move, they have spent close to €400 million on Philippe Coutinho, Ousmane Dembele and Antoine Griezmann to replace the Brazilian. None of this trio has managed to adequately replace Neymar, and the club has become even more reliant on Lionel Messi bailing them out week after week.
Ever since his move to the French capital, there have been rumours of Neymar wanting to return to Barcelona. The Catalan giants seem to want him back too as they have tried signing him on numerous occasions in the past three years. From offering a slightly lower transfer fee to offering a plethora of players, Barca, however, haven't been able to get a breakthrough. This may all change because of Article 17 of FIFA's transfer regulations.
What is Article 17?
This article dictates the consequences of a unilateral termination of a footballer's contract without just cause. This law allows players to break their contract as long as it is within 15 days after the end of a season and having served 3 three years of the contract if they signed it before the age of 28.
If a player triggers Article 17, FIFA decides what the compensation to the club losing the player will be. This is done using a formula devised by FIFA based on the law of that country, the specificity of sport, the wages and other benefits remaining on the contract, the duration of contract remaining and lastly the fees and other expenses incurred by the club.
How does this help Neymar?
Barcelona isn't on good terms with PSG, and a transfer agreement between the two clubs seems unlikely. This may be the only way to bring the Brazilian back, with players like Lionel Messi desperate to see the Brazilian return to Camp Nou.
There is no previous example of a move of this type involving a player as high profile as Neymar. But one thing is for sure that the fee would be enormous. Experts on these matters have stated that the fee would be around €150 million. While the fee may be huge, the advantage for Barcelona this time around would be that PSG will be out of the equation.
Very few players have used this clause, potentially a legal minefield, to move clubs. If Barcelona and Messi do want to get their golden boy back, this may be the only way they can.