Neym and shame him – greed is not good!

"One of the things that you learn as you meet top footballers, their agents and their families is that in the majority of cases, there is no such thing as 'enough money.'"
– Spanish football guru Graham Hunter.

THE £30 million a year that Barcelona were paying Neymar certainly wasn't enough; nor, more pertinently, was his release clause of £197 million. Barca plucked the latter figure out of very thin air, thinking – quite reasonably – that no one would ever pay it.

But someone with more money and political will than football sense has. And the already-inflated world transfer record has been yanked up by a mind-numbing 121%. If, as this column pointed out last week, the driving force was political, petrodollars have oiled the wheels and provided a turbo thrust.

The reaction has been as hysterical as the figures. "If you didn't feel the ground move beneath your feet, you are simply not paying attention," screeched The Independent. The paper also claimed, "This era-defining transfer is the bargain of the summer".

Let's deal with the earthquake first. The shock was genuinely off the Richter in every respect. The size of the fee dwarfs the £75m Manchester United paid for Romelu Lukaku, for instance, but is less than half the total package.

It has ensured the story not only reaches the front pages, but has attracted the attention of business analysts and prophets of doom as well. Scroll down the comments sections and glance at social media, and the overwhelming sentiment is one of revulsion.

Football and its fantasy finances have for a few years now been proving a turnoff for millions in a Europe suffering the rigours of austerity. Many traditional fans have been driven away by rip-off prices of tickets and merchandise, their disgust amplified by the contempt of both clubs and players.

As with bankers' bonuses, the extra digits on salaries and transfer fees zoom over our non-comprehending heads and the sense of alienation grows.

Empty seats are dotting the stadiums and just as the dizzy heights of the broadcasting bonanza have surely been scaled, the abyss on the other side can now be glimpsed.

If the TV rights do not continue their steepling rise at the next renewal - an unlikely event – some clubs are going to be in deep trouble. There have already been warnings of the bubble bursting and Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy is not a lone voice calling the current transfer madness "unsustainable".

And that was before PSG are paying what will amount to almost half a billion quid for Neymar!

In short, it's not just that Barca were caught fiddling while Rome burned, this transfer has an unmistakable "last days of empire" feel to it. Pessimists might say it's deck-chair rearranging on the Titanic.

Only a nation feeling cornered and fighting to keep its perch as benefactor to Western sport and culture would dare do such a thing. For this is a decision made not in Paris but Qatar and is that tiny state's headline-grabbing counterpunch after being forced onto the ropes by its neighbours.

All that said and done, it can be argued that it is a bargain – of sorts. Well, for just 2.63 times the price of Lukaku, the Neymar deal is making 263 times the impact. And Neymar is a much better player – on the podium with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

What's more, at 25 he is young enough to be around for the long haul – or until someone else comes in and makes an offer his dad can't refuse.

What cannot be ignored is that for all Qatar's money, Neymar could have said "no". He had only just signed a new deal with Barca, was a member of El Tridente, perhaps the most breathtaking front three in football history, and had as good an understanding off the field as on it with Messi and Luis Suarez.

It was the stuff every boy dreams about and more. And a lot to give up for pieces of silver.

And for PSG? As previously mentioned, they are a thrusting, young, medium-to-large fish in a modest and otherwise docile pool. As a football institution, compared to "More than a Club" Barcelona, they are at the gold tap stage.

In terms of history, legends and silverware, they aren't fit to clean the Nou Camp toilets.

All of which makes the idea that Neymar wanted to step out of Messi's shadow faintly ludicrous – playing in Ligue Un backwaters, he will be an awful lot further from the sun.

However this is dressed up, it looks like a move from Gordon Gecko's "Greed is good" handbook. Neymar will trouser a huge chunk and so will his dad, who, remember, was involved in the sleazy deal that took his son from Santos to Barca in the first place.

As well as "coffee money" amounting to tens of millions, there were allegations of orgies from the Santos president – and they haven't been refuted.

Neymar's entourage certainly haven't endeared themselves to anyone in Catalonia with their crass behaviour – indeed, players who had pleaded with him to stay were glad to see the back of him in the end.

Just as we know why the Qatari owners made the move, we know why Neymar wouldn't listen to reason, to Messi himself, or the club and its hundreds of thousands of beseeching socios: he listened to his greedy dad, his pals and Gecko.

And by doing so, he dragged the beautiful game closer to the gutter. Televisions are already being turned off, tickets not renewed and, oh, whatever happened to Financial Fair Play?

If it has even crossed PSG's mind, it will require footwork every bit as fancy as their new recruit's to wangle their way around it.

You could argue that it says a lot about football's stature that a country is staking so much of its reputation on the game. But you could also argue that football's own reputation is in danger.

Just like the week's other pigs-at-the-trough event, if the game is not careful, it could become another over-hyped, over-paid turn-off like Mayweather vs McGregor. And the greed of one its greatest modern players will have helped put it there.