Football: Arsene Wenger questions FFP purpose after Neymar's world-record transfer

Brazilian superstar Neymar smiles during a press conference at the Parc des Princes stadium on August 4, 2017 in Paris after agreeing a five-year contract following his world record 222 million euro ($260 million) transfer from Barcelona to Paris Sai
Brazilian superstar Neymar smiles during a press conference at the Parc des Princes stadium on August 4, 2017 in Paris after agreeing a five-year contract following his world record 222 million euro ($260 million) transfer from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain.PHOTO: AFP

(REUTERS) - Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has criticised Neymar's world-record transfer move from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), saying it will become increasingly difficult to respect financial fair play (FFP) rules when "a country owns a football club".

PSG, backed by majority shareholder Qatar Sports Investments, signed the Brazilian forward on a five-year deal on Thursday after they triggered his €222 million (S$358 million) release clause.

"For me, it is the consequence of the ownership and that has completely changed the whole landscape of football in the last 15 years," Wenger told reporters.

"Once a country owns a club, everything is possible. It becomes very difficult to respect the financial fair play because you can have different ways or different interests for a country to have such a big player to represent a country."

Neymar's transfer more than doubled the previous world-record fee Manchester United paid for Paul Pogba when they paid Juventus €105 million for the midfielder last August.

Wenger expressed further concern over an inability to control the transfer market, describing current player valuations as "beyond calculation and beyond rationality".

"It also looks like inflation is accelerating. We crossed the €100 million line last year and, only one year later, we're crossing the €200 million line," the Frenchman added.

"When you think that Trevor Francis was the first £1 million pound (S$1.7 million) player (in 1979) and that looked unreasonable, that shows you how much distance and how far we have come, how big football has become."

Arsenal broke their own transfer record last month when they signed French international striker Alexandre Lacazette for a reported fee of £46.5 million pounds, but Wenger insists his side cannot compete with the richer clubs.

"We still live with rationality," Wenger added. "We are not the only ones. I think 99 per cent of the clubs do that, but of course we cannot compete at that level."

FA Cup holders Arsenal kick off their season with the Community Shield showdown against Premier League champions Chelsea on Sunday.