Insider Notes: Neymar, Messi's worth; future of joint Copa America
How much are the world’s best players worth on the transfer market? It’s hard to know with a star like Lionel Messi, who sounds like he has no plans to leave Barcelona. Messi told me in a recent interview: “I have my life in Barcelona. It’s perfect here.”
But I have confirmed that Manchester United did in fact make an offer to pay Neymar’s €190 million buyout clause with Barcelona in 2015. That’s $218 million of a real offer, and nearly double the record fee that Real Madrid paid for Gareth Bale two years ago. Neymar ended up deciding to stay for now at Barcelona, which shows how much power elite players have these days.
One top Spanish executive shook his head and said: “Players are starting to be more valuable than the clubs themselves.”
Elsewhere around Planet Fútbol:
Future of joint Copa America
One of the biggest questions about Copa America Centenario isn’t just about this year’s one-off tournament, but rather about what it might mean for the future: If it’s successful, is there a chance it could lead to a regular combined tournament between North and South America that would give us our version of the Euro? FIFA president Gianni Infantino was surprisingly open-minded about supporting such an idea when talking to SI.com recently.
After asking around this week, while told it’s not out of the question, we shouldn’t get our hopes up too much for a regular combined Copa. One reason: It couldn’t take place every time in the U.S., where tickets can be priced much higher, and dealing with tournament owner CONMEBOL is not an easy thing. Still, if the tournament goes extremely well, look for more people to lobby for it to continue.
Fafa for USMNT?
Fafa Picault is a name that won’t be on the USA's Copa America Centenario roster, but you should still keep an eye on him. The 25-year-old forward is a New York City native who just signed a new contract with St. Pauli of Germany's 2. Bundesliga and got a Twitter shout-out from Jurgen Klinsmann for his recent goal-scoring form. Picault, who lived in Miami during his adolescence, has four goals in his last six appearances.
I’m told that Picault has a very good chance of being called in for the U.S.’s upcoming friendly at Puerto Rico on May 22, when Klinsmann will need players since MLS-based players will not be involved.
Picault, who also has Haitian eligibility, played in NASL for the Tampa Bay Rowdies and Fort Lauderdale Strikers before heading to Europe.