Soccer's the best. One of the reasons it's the best is that there are lots of leagues all over the world with lots of teams within them, and they all come together twice a year during the transfer windows to form one huge clusterfuck. Some of the richest clubs are owned by actual princes and/or oil tycoons, and there are no salary caps, and players, even the best ones, aren't traded but bought and sold individually like really well-trained livestock. Owners manage their teams like they're playing video games, and whenever they come in contact with other owners, they're compelled to swing their dicks around. This is one of those times.
Today's dick-swinging contest is the best dick-swinging contest, because it's between Spanish kings FC Barcelona, the greatest club of the last decade, and French champions Paris Saint-Germain. The two clubs have history: Just last season, Barcelona squeaked by PSG on goal differential in the Champions League quarterfinal. Barcelona are the most prestigious club in the world, and basically can sign whomever they want whenever they want. PSG, though, were taken over by a Qatari oil conglomerate Qatar Investment Authority in 2011, and now, without hyperbole, have more money than God. They're trying to buy silverware, and so far it's working.
Barcelona's transfer policy is pretty great. The core of their team comes up in Barcelona's academy, and if they have a hole somewhere, they usually go out and buy one of the best players in the world at the position to fill the gap. Last year, they had troubles in the center of defense. Longtime stalwart Carles Puyol is super old and then got injured, and for some reason they didn't have a valid replacement to play alongside Gerard Pique. As a result, this happened, which, you know, can't happen. So this transfer period, they're on the market for a center back. Tops on their list: PSG defender Thiago Silva.
Just about everyone linked with Barcelona immediately starts edging toward the door, but to his credit, Silva has been saying all the right things about staying put in Paris. Of course, nothing he's saying matters even a little bit, because he has a buyout clause in his contract.
Basically, a buyout clause in soccer states that if another club bids a certain amount of money for a player, then the player's team has to let the player negotiate personal terms. Many buyouts are above what the player's actually worth, and some are astronomical (Cristiano Ronaldo's buyout clause is a billion euros, with a b and a one and nine zeros). That Barcelona were willing to trigger Silva's buyout clause, casually overpaying for their man, goes directly against what PSG is trying to do. Unfortunately, the point of a buyout clause is that if it gets triggered, there's not much anyone can do. Of course, if you live in a palace on an oil field, there's always another option.
Yesterday, Sky Sports reported that PSG president Sheikh Nasser Al-Khelaifi finally got tired of the Silva rumors and decided to strike back. "If Barça pay the buyout clause of Thiago Silva, then I will meet Messi's buyout clause," he told reporters.
With one statement, Al-Khelaifi's whipped out his dick on the world stage, and for the first time, the world is seeing that bulging bludgeon in all its glory. That's because Lionel Messi's buyout clause is reportedly €250 million. To compare, PSG were valued at about €100 million two years ago when the Qatar Investment Authority bought the club.
Just because a player's buyout clause is triggered and he negotiates with a team doesn't mean he has to sign. But PSG's willingness to spend €250 million for Messi also means that they're willing to pay him a record-breaking salary.
This mostly sounds like posturing, of course, which is what makes this time of the year great. But... Messi's the best player in the world, maybe already the best of all time. If PSG are willing to trigger the buyout, then they should. Messi alone would make PSG one of the best two or three clubs in the world, and in time, he'd pay for himself.
Dick-waving contests are ultimately a letdown; at the end of the day, no one's actually using them. But if Al-Khelaifi's threat was serious, and he has the means to buy Messi, why let Thiago Silva stop him?
Photo Credit: Getty Images