Neymar’s Choice

Recently Neymar was part of the biggest transfer in football history, leaving Barcelona to play for PSG for 222 million Euros. The decision to play in France has generated much debate in the world of football, many consider the French league inferior to the Spanish one and believe that Neymar has taken a step back in his career. On the other hand, some consider that the athlete made a correct decision to become the main player of another great European club and to accept new challenges. Algolritmo brings some data that help to further understand the athlete’s choice

League Winners in the past years:

It is possible to see that both leagues have been dominated by giants in recent years. In the Spanish league, Real Madrid and Barcelona usually fight for the title among themselves. Rarely will any other team be able to overthrow the top two clubs in Spain and win the title (as was the case of Atletico Madrid in the 2013–2014 season). In France, PSG seems to be increasingly consolidating its position as the country’s major soccer club, winning 4 titles in the last 5 years. However, last year the Monaco team has shown that it also has ambitious plans and was able to win the national title, they certainly can inconvenient opponent to the Paris side.

Market Value:

Analyzing the market value of all the teams of each League it is possible to realize that La Liga has greater economic power. According to transfermarkt, the total value of the Spanish League is 3.72 billion Euros while the French League is worth 1.81 billion Euros. It is interesting to see how these values are distributed among the teams, that is, how big the gap is between the richest and poorest clubs in each League.

In the above charts, we can see that there is a greater gap between the teams in the French League. Note that the bar that represents the market value of PSG is much larger than its competitors represented in the chart, and almost the same size of the “others” bar (sum of the values of the other teams not included in the chart). In the Spanish League, the differences in squad values appear to be somewhat smaller. Real Madrid and Barcelona have close very close figures and Atletico’s team has been increasing in market value. In addition, the bar of the “others” in the Spanish League is significantly larger than that of Real, Barça and Atletico, which indicates that the club has valuable players spread across several clubs.

Euro Club Index:

To compare the competitiveness of each league a little better, I used the Euro Club Index, which makes an interesting ranking of the clubs in Europe. In that ranking, each team has a number of points, and according to results throughout the year clubs earn or lose those points. Below I have prepared a table with data from the Euro Club Index of the main European leagues:

We can see that, on average, the Spanish league teams have a greater number of points (2866.55) than French league teams (2358,75). Therefore, according to this index, Spanish teams are, on average, better than the French. However, whenever we look at an average of a data set it is interesting to also look at the standard deviation (which helps us understand the dispersion of data, more about it in the “Observations”). It is possible to notice that the standard deviation of La Liga (681.40) is higher than that of Ligue 1 (563.05), this indicates that there is a greater gap in skill and technique in the Spanish league than in the French league, since the values of the Euro Club Index are more dispersed. With the above data, it is possible to conclude that the Spanish championship has better teams while the French championship has more level competition in general.

Champions League:

There is a huge contrast between the number of Champions Leagues won by French and Spanish teams. While clubs in Spain have won the tournament 17 times (12 of Real Madrid and 5 of Barcelona) French clubs were only able to win the title once (Olympique de Marseille in 1993). Hiring Neymar is undoubtedly part of a great PSG project to consolidate itself as one of the European giants (alongside Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich) and to achieve such status the team still needs to win a Champions League title.


The data analyzed shows that in general the Spanish league has higher quality teams and is more competitive than the French, which leads many to believe that Neymar has made a bad choice for his future. However, we can say that Neymar has accepted a great challenge for his career: to win the first Champions to the city of Paris. The Brazilian player has already won everything he could in Barcelona, of course wining more titles alongside Messi and Suarez would not be bad, but leading PSG to a Champions League title would be a unique achievement and would help the Brazilian to reach his dream of winning the Ballon d’Or.


  1. The Euro Club Index makes a very interesting ranking of European teams and is updated constantly. To see the ranking just go to:
  2. The standard deviation is a measure of dispersion of a set of data. Briefly, it helps to understand how much values are far from average. Set of data with very high values and very low tend to have larger standard deviation.
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