There’s a reason why they call this time of year Silly Season: The days are long, serious news is short, and a single tweet linking New York City FC to Mister Potato spokesman Neymar Júnior can germinate into a full-fledged rumor within 24 hours. Things get freaky when the primary transfer window in European leagues overlaps with the secondary transfer window in MLS, and as crazy as it might seem, there are good reasons why Neymar to NYCFC could actually happen.
First, the origin of this rumor comes from @TheSecretScout_, a Twitter account with
a blue check over 120,000 followers — one of whom is transfer guru Fabrizio Romano. That doesn’t exactly make the tweet gospel, but it prompted us to go entertain the possibility of Neymar making the move, and enumerate why it might take place, but won’t.
Unless it does.
Which is ridiculous — who are we kidding?
But just maybe…
Why NYCFC makes sense to Neymar
First, let’s look at why Neymar to NYCFC is plausible. To begin, Neymar’s time at Paris Saint-Germain is coming to an end. His contract with PSG keeps him at the Parc des Princes through 2027, but several reputable news organizations report that the two sides are ready to call it quits.
The question remains: Where will the 31-year-old superstar play next? There aren’t many clubs in the world that can handle his reported $60 million salary, or his demanding personality.
NYCFC could manage both. The deep pockets of City Football Group, NYCFC’s parent company, could guarantee a Neymar-sized salary with the stroke of a pen. CFG isn’t in the subsidy business – the organization seems content to let New York City sort out their own operating budget and salary restrictions – but they’ll make a hefty investment if they think the return is worth it.
For example, CFG is backing the privately-funded $780 million stadium NYCFC will open in Willets Point in 2027. Paying Neymar’s wages could be viewed as a similar long-term investment, a way to underwrite the promotion of NYCFC and bring the club’s attention to a global audience in the same way that Lionel Messi’s signing with Inter Miami has transformed a second-tier MLS team into one of the most recognizable soccerball clubs in the world.
As for Neymar’s sometimes prickly personality, he would likely be given some latitude at an NYCFC that is in the middle of a rebuild, and is something of a tabula rasa right now. There are no players in the New York City locker room who will challenge or undermine Neymar’s position as the team’s Alpha.
Yes, there is leadership to be found in Maxime Chanot, and low-key excellence in the play of Keaton Parks, Gabriel Pereira, and James Sands. But there is no Taty Castellanos looking for minutes and goals to help him make the move to Europe, no David Villa sitting at the conn. There’s room for Neymar at NYCFC right now.
Rather, why New York City makes sense
But mostly, NYCFC makes sense because of the three letters at the start of the club’s name: Neymar would be in New York City.
Neymar is a wildly ambitious person who likes his lifestyle, and New York City is one of the few places in the world that can offer him an upgrade in professional opportunities, and luxurious living.
If you want to take a measure of Neymar’s ambitions, just look at his website. It’s divided into three sections: Football, Community, and Culture. Football has soccer-related news and features, while Community is about charity and outreach. Culture is really the Neymar brand: This is where you learn about “Ney em Alto Mar” a three-day cruise with Neymar that will set sail in December and will include “nonstop entertainment, casinos, specialized stores, bowling, gaming rooms, 4D cinema, a water park, gyms, spa, theater spectacles and the best of world cuisine.” Prices start at $5,400 for an interior double without a window.
There’s the post about the Neymar x Puma basketball collaboration, the Neymar skin in Call of Duty. Neymar isn’t the only footballer to pursue these sorts of revenue streams — Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe, and Cristiano Ronaldo are just as relentless. But he’s the only one who could start playing in the same town where many of the world’s largest and most important creative organizations, corporate sponsors, and media groups are headquartered.
There’s something to be said for Neymar meeting the giants of these industries over a green juice at the Mandarin Oriental’s 35th-floor MO Lounge overlooking Central Park, or having his people talk to their people about reserving a box at Yankee Soccer Stadium, rather than scheduling a Zoom.
In all likelihood, NYCFC’s Neymar would live not far from the Mandarin Oriental, which anchors one of the towers at the Time-Warner Center at Columbus Circle. The priciest real estate in New York City right now is on Billionaire’s Row, a stretch of 57th St where the luxury apartments have soaring views you usually can only see from an airplane. I hear the penthouse on the 113th floor of Central Park Tower – at 1,000′, it’s “the highest residence in the world” – is available. And it’s an easy 45-minute Tesla drive from NYCFC’s training facility in Orangeburg, NY.
Seems like the kind of place where Neymar would want to kick it.
Besides, there’s a good footballing reason for NYCFC to do what it can to sign Neymar. The team are short on goal-scorers, and we hear that Neymar can find the back of the net.
There’s a good chance that NYCFC would have taken all three points on Wednesday night when Charlotte FC were in town.
No way, José
There are so many strong, compelling counterarguments to Neymar signing with NYCFC. There’s no real need to take a deep dive. MLS might be the new home of Messi, but it’s maybe the seventh- or eighth-most competitive league in the world. New York City play on the converted outfield at Yankee Stadium, unless they’re playing on the converted outfield at Citi Field, or at the home of the New Jersey Red Bulls across state lines, or on the turf field of St. John’s University in Queens.
Besides, there’s the specter of the professional league in Saudi Arabia, which has been snapping up the world’s biggest stars by paying them the world’s biggest football salaries.
In other words, if Neymar wants to keep his edge, he will likely stay in Europe. And if he wants to cash out, he will likely head south to Saudi Arabia.
This means there’s very little chance of this rumor firming up into something more solid and truthy. Nope, there’s no way Neymar will sign with NYCFC.
Not going to happen.