New Paris Saint-Germain signing Neymar is smiling all the way to the bank after joining the French the side for a record transfer fee. Photo: Christian Hartmann/Reuters

Money talks, they say. The greenbacks have never screamed louder than they did this past week, right around the world.

We keep saying that we’re living in a new age where anything is possible, but even five years ago no one could have possibly envisaged a man who kicks a ball of air amounting to over half a billion dollars in total expenditure over five years.

The numbers around Neymar’s deal to Paris Saint-Germain are not just ground-breaking; they may yet be the catalyst that eventually tips the whole delicate matter of football business over the edge.

We used to joke that Chelsea were spending over the odds, purely because they were funded by Russian rubles that were infinite in number, so they could simply buy success.

We even chuckled at what the Etihad billions at Manchester City were trying to do, by buying their way into football’s top table.

As Pep Guardiola will wearily attest, you can’t just buy membership to Europe’s elite.

City are still learning, and realising that the Champions League is the most expensive private school in world sport - and there is still no guarantee of success, even after you throw gazillions at the problem.

Enter PSG, they of the now infamous night when they chucked a first-leg lead so vast that some bookies stopped taking money against them.

They were champions of France, so surely they could manage to not concede four goals against Barcelona.

We all know how that ended up, as Barcelona rewrote every footballing great escape plot, and the world lost its mind.

Neymar was central to that, yes, but was he so central that he warrants a transfer fee beyond $200-million?

Who knows? Who actually knows any more, in a world where the brittle combination of hope and hype is the greatest currency in the game?

We thought Paul Pogba’s fee to go from Juventus to Manchester was inflated, and his last season at Old Trafford confirmed that much.

Heavy lies the crown, and all that.

Neymar may well dazzle in Ligue 1 but don’t expect him to set the Champions League on fire. The real winners in all these astonishing deals are the middle men, number crunchers like Mino Raiola and Pini Zahavi.

It is the age of the super-agent, men who can whisper sweet nothings to billionaires, and convince them that it is great business to buy over the odds, even if to just dominate the world’s headlines for a day.

Their commission from these deals are hefty enough for them to buy their own football teams soon - well, they certainly could five years ago on today’s money. If that makes ‘cents’.

A world away from Neymar and his astronomical deal, the cricketers of Australia also broke ground this week.

They have been resolute in a stand-off against Cricket Australia over the next pay deal, and it had got so serious that even The Ashes were under threat. Of course, they eventually got the deal they wanted, but the specifics ought to be a blueprint for every other major Test-playing nation.

It was male and female players standing together, ensuring that both parties got a more significant slice of the pie. That was impressive, and Australia continue to lead the way in the pursuit for (near) parity between men and women in cricket.

The Proteas Women’s side must have looked at the developments with interest, and wondered when they too would hold hands with the male counterparts, and sit down at the same negotiation table.

At this very point in time, the pay-gap between our men and women cricketers - both World Cup semi-finalists, lest we forget - is as vast as that between Neymar and a decent PSL footballer. Not English Premier League, but our local diski.

The numbers are on a different planet altogether. It is certainly food for thought.

Sunday Tribune

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