Football superstar Neymar has reportedly rejected a contract extension with French champions Psg, fueling speculation that a big-money return to his previous club Barcelona could be on the cards. Rumour has it the Brazilian already regretted his move to the French capital within one week of signing the papers in 2017 and pushed hard for a return to Catalonia this past summer.

The summertime deal fell through due to a purported lack of funds (Neymar is the world's most expensive player, after all), but it’s likely the player will be looking to reignite the possibility again once the transfer window opens in January.

With the shrewd management of Neymar senior in his corner, only a fool would bet against the father-son duo coming out on top in both footballing and financial terms. Indeed, the recruitment of family into the roles of agent and manager is a practice that’s becoming ever more popular in the sport, paying rewarding dividends for both player and relative.

Dynastic dealings

Neymar was so desperate to return to Camp Nou at the close of last season that he was apparently even willing to use his own capital to finance the switch.

What’s more, the feeling appears to have been mutual. Last month, Gerard Piqué revealed that he and his teammates had been willing to take a pay cut to facilitate the move, but the failure to insert a release clause in Neymar’s initial PSG contract proved to be an insurmountable hurdle, with the French club unwilling to sell their prized asset despite his wantaway intentions.

Should Neymar succeed in engineering the transfer come January, he’ll be reunited with legendary Barcelona captain Lionel Messi, with whom he shares more than just hefty paychecks, incredible skills on the pitch and a firm friendship.

The two men are represented by their fathers, with Neymar senior and Jorge Messi having both engineered lucrative deals for their offspring in recent years. The latter oversaw the now-famous "serviette signing" of Messi while the Argentinian prodigy was just 13 years old—pocketing over €46,000 for himself annually as a result.

That sum, impressive though it might have seemed for representing a teenager in 2000, has since been dwarfed by the €40 million commission (plus €21 million “scouting” fees) that Neymar senior negotiated for himself when his son joined Santos in 2014.

With Neymar having previously only signed an extension with Santos on the condition that 40% of his next fee would go to the player himself (and thanks to his own generosity, onto his father), the club recouped just €17 million from the sale.

A family affair

Far from being isolated cases, these footballers’ decision to keep it in the family when it comes to their representation is part of a growing trend in the sport. Early precursors could be seen in France in the shape of Eric Cantona’s and Nicolas Anelka’s brothers, while today, the list of footballers with next of kin on the payroll (Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Danny Welbeck, Adrien Rabiot, Edinson Cavani and Samuel Umtiti, to name but a few) is longer than the length of umpteen football pitches.

Of course, the financial advantages of doing so are underlined by the hefty sums Jorge Messi and Neymar Sr. pocketed. When the profits made by the agents of Ross Barkley (€8.2 million from his transfer to Chelsea) and Paul Pogba (€47.8 million from his return to Manchester United) are taken into account, it’s hard to disagree with ex-England star Gary Neville when he questioned why agents should ever take home such astronomical stakes. But aside from economic reasons, there are other incentives to having a family member onside, too, such as the advantages of having someone who a football star can trust completely to look out for their best interests and fight their corner fiercely.

Bakari Sanogo’s impact

One prime example of when this has produced impressive sporting results is the case of Tottenham midfielder Moussa Sissoko. After securing a €35 million deadline day move from Newcastle in 2016, Sissoko—used to playing in every game in his previous clubs—initially struggled to adapt to his new team’s playing style and intensity. However, Sissoko’s uncle Bakari Sanogo – who has represented the midfielder ever since he turned professional – advised patience, perseverance and plenty of hard work.

Bakari Sanogo’s advice to his nephew seems to have borne fruit. Sissoko has since become one of the Spurs’ breakout stars and was an integral part of his team’s run to last season’s Champions League final.

Family ties pay dividends

Sissoko’s turnaround in stature at the club has been nothing short of remarkable and the contribution made by Bakari Sanogo has apparently not gone unnoticed. His teammate, Spurs and England captain Harry Kane, recently announced that his own brother Charlie would be taking control of his affairs. Even before Charlie Kane officially took over managing the English star in December 2018, he had already shown his worth when helping to successfully negotiate a bumper six-year deal with Tottenham the previous summer.

If rumors from France are to be believed, Neymar Senior has been making life difficult for the PSG hierarchy in negotiating the terms of a new deal for his son. With the player contracted until 2022, the club may hold most of the aces for now, but Neymar will surely sleep easier with one of his own flesh and blood fighting tooth and nail to get what’s best for his boy. With agents often vilified in the press and their integrity brought into question seemingly every time the transfer window opens, it’s an approach that appears to be paying off handsomely for footballers in Europe and far beyond.

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