By luring Neymar out of a comfortable life at Barcelona and away from one of the world's best attacking trios, Paris Saint-Germain changed football's landscape. In one swift move, the French giant weakened a direct European rival and upended the sport's establishment.
But the €222-million transfer doesn't guarantee PSG success in the Champions League. Only two players in the world have the power to turn a club into a tournament favourite, and they are two of the best in history -Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
Neymar's arrival means many more things. It validates a league that's failed to command international respect and opens up a world of commercial opportunities. That the Brazilian will improve results is obvious; it's his marketing impact that stands to make PSG an attractive option for future stars and partnerships.
"Before Neymar, the value of the club was $1 billion," PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi told reporters Friday, according to the BBC. "Now it is $1.5 billion."
Related – Neymar: Desire for 'bigger challenge,' not money, behind switch to PSG
No matter where Neymar plays in a front three with Edinson Cavani and Angel Di Maria, PSG now has the ammunition to frighten any defence. The Sao Paulo native's goal-scoring record in the Champions League is also reassuring: Only four players since 2013-14 have scored more than Neymar's 21 goals in the competition.
Whether PSG has the team to win every trophy around is another proposition altogether.
Questions have to be asked of the club's defence. Captain Thiago Silva has shirked from the challenge on the grandest stages, and Marquinhos showed in the embarrassing 6-1 reverse to Barcelona that he's prone to calamitous errors.
The full-back position is deep, but apart from 21-year-old Presnel Kimpembe, there's no one else to relieve the Brazilian centre-half duo.
PSG also has the look of a top-heavy outfit. Jese, Hatem Ben Arfa, and Goncalo Guedes are outsiders on this team, and questions about Julian Draxler's role are valid. The capital club did well to keep the tactically astute Marco Verratti this summer, especially as Barcelona circled above, but PSG still lacks a world-class midfield anchor like Real Madrid's Casemiro or Sergio Busquets. A 34-year-old Thiago Motta doesn't cut it, and Adrien Rabiot, who is more of a roamer, is not yet at his counterparts' level.
The looming spectre of Financial Fair Play should also encourage PSG to sell some of its peripherals, but more importantly, it could prompt the departures of players who'd otherwise have a regular say on the pitch. Blaise Matuidi has been linked with a move abroad, and the fact that Verratti enlisted the restless Mino Raiola as his agent may mean a transfer is in the pipeline.
Even as PSG is right now, manager Unai Emery doesn't have the best squad in the game.
Man for man, Madrid still boasts a better starting XI. Headlined by Cristiano Ronaldo, inspired by Luka Modric, and flanked by electrifying full-backs Marcelo and Dani Carvajal, Los Blancos have an authoritative figure in every position. They also have a manager in Zinedine Zidane who's found success with different formations and maximised Ronaldo's output.
Critics haven't been kind to Emery, either. He faced a lashing in the aftermath of PSG's collapse to Barcelona, with L'Equipe saying he was "too reserved" in the second leg of that historic Champions League turnaround. In Ligue 1, his tactical stubbornness cost PSG points. Many thought he wouldn't last the season.
Even with some of football's biggest names in recent years, PSG has stumbled at the quarter-final stage of the Champions League. It hasn't reached the semis since 1995.
While the signing of a world-class player of Neymar's stature is a statement of intent, the club is still a work in progress.
(Photos courtesy: Action Images)
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