Jose Mourinho says Neymar’s move to Paris Saint-Germain has “changed everything” in the transfer market and believes Manchester United saved themselves tens of millions by getting their business done early.
PSG stunned the football world last month when they agreed to meet the Brazilian star’s £198m buyout clause to lure him from Barcelona, shattering the previous world record fee of £89.3m paid by Manchester United for Paul Pogba last summer.
Barcelona then followed that up by paying an initial fee of £97m to Borussia Dortmund to sign Ousmane Dembele, with a further £38m payable in add-ons, bring the total potential fee to £135m.
PSG then pulled off another major coup by signing Monaco’s teen sensation Kylian Mbappe on an initial season-long loan, with the Parisians set to make the transfer permanent next July for a fee understood to be worth £166m.
United were by no means conservative in their spending this summer as they splashed out £39.5m on Victor Lindelof (£30.7m up front with a further £8.8m in add-ons), £90m on Romelu Lukaku (£75m up front with a further £15m in add-ons) and £40m on Nemanja Matic, while Zlatan Ibrahimovic also re-signed on a free transfer.
That is a total spend of up to £169.5m but Mourinho believes United saved themselves a lot of money by completing their transfer business in July.
“I think we were very clever,” Mourinho told The Times. “We thought that something could happen that could change the market forever.
“Normally the last part of the market is less expensive, but this season, after Neymar, everything changed – and changed for the worse in terms of prices.
“I think Lukaku on August 31 would have been £150m. Matic would have been £60m or £70m. Neymar changed everything.
“If the biggest transfer in history had still been Paul Pogba, I think Philippe Coutinho would now be in Barcelona at £101m.
“People look at the £200m figure now. Now the players of £20m became £40m, the players of £40m became £60m and everything changed.
“Lukaku and Matic, now, would have cost us £200m in total. But because we did it in the first part of the summer, it was much less. I think we did well in financial terms and well in preparation terms, getting them before the season started. That is not crucial but it is important.”