Neymar’s world record-breaking move from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain caused quite a stir this summer.
The Ligue 1 side parted with a hard-earned £198million for the Brazilian, which means the Spanish giants have a Bruce Wayne-sized fortune to play with before the summer transfer window closes.
Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho and Dortmund forward Ousmane Dembele are two names heavily, heavily linked with a move to Barca as his replacements, although both clubs are playing hard-ball over their star men.
We kinda, sorta really want it to happen, as Barcelona look in desperate need of some extra oomph to get them out of the shadow of their bitter rivals Real Madrid.
Madrid look very tasty at the moment, with Zinedine Zidane’s side winning back-to-back Champions League titles alongside last season’s La Liga.
What’s more, the giants boast the likes of Cristano Ronaldo, Isco, Toni Kroos and Marcelo in their star-studded line-up, alongside exciting youngsters Theo Hernandez and Marco Asensio.
So, with curiosity, coupled with too much time on our hands, we decided to use the best future-predicting technology available to us (Football Manager 2017) to simulate an entire season with Coutinho and Dembele in Barcelona’s side to coincide with the departure of Neymar, just to see how they all get on.
We even stuck Paulinho in the mix, just because that actually happened and we can’t stop thinking about it.
The main questions we wanted to answer were; will the first season of Neymar’s Parisian adventure result in the Ballon d’Or? Will Barca manage to get the better of Madrid? And how will Liverpool replace Coutinho?
All will be revealed.
Firstly, using the editor tool, we transferred Neymar from Barcelona to PSG for £198m, while Coutinho, Dembele and Paulinho went to Barca for £95m, £90m and £40m respectively.
We then simulated the game for one whole season, to see how each will get on.
So, here we go.
How does Neymar get on at Paris Saint-Germain?
In France, PSG finished champions of Ligue 1, beating runners-up Monaco by a massive 17 points.
That’s not quite the same total they managed in the 2015-16 season, when they finished 29 points clear of second-placed Lyon, but it’s still pretty decent.
Neymar – as you’d expect – was the resounding star man, topping the Ligue 1 charts for goals scored, average rating and Man of the Match awards.
But, his brilliant season in France didn’t result in the Ballon d’Or.
In fact, look away now, Neymar fans.
Once again, it went to his former teammate Lionel Messi.
Honestly, he can’t catch a break.
To make matters worse, Premier League duo Juan Mata and Mesut Ozil came second and third respectively.
What on earth happened in England?
Let’s have a look, shall we.
How well do Liverpool do without Philippe Coutinho?
With Coutinho fleeing Anfield for the sunny skies of Barcelona, Liverpool limped home to sixth place in the Premier League, while Arsenal and Manchester United battled it out at the top.
Ozil (7.94) and Mata (8.13) had the best seasons of their respective careers, while Christian Benteke finished top goalscorer.
C’mon guys, it is Football Manager, after all.
To replace Coutinho, Liverpool signed Lazio winger Keita Balde (who’s been linked with West Ham this summer) and tricky Espanyol midfield Hernan Perez.
Keita had a fairly good season on the left wing (although they should’ve gone for someone like Mohamed Salah, ahem) with Adam Lallana taking over Coutinho’s No 10 role.
Perez was used sparingly as an impact sub, although he became a hero of sorts during the Reds victorious FA Cup campaign, scoring the winner against Manchester United in the final.
See what we mean by impact sub?
Meanwhile, in Spain…
Barcelona, with their trio of new signings in the side, managed to edge Real Madrid to the La Liga title by a single point.
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi had sensational seasons (what’s new?) with Paco Alcacer playing slightly forward as a lone-striker and Dembele playing on the left-wing.
Coutinho had a great season, finishing the season with 12 goals and a 7.58 rating, although his campaign was cut-short when he picked up a season-ending cruciate ligament injury against Bayern Munich in the semi-final Champions League.
As a result, he missed out on the Copa del Rey final defeat to Real Madrid.
And as for Paulinho?
10 appearances, one goal and a measly 6.58 rating.
Nice to see some thing’s never change, eh?