Lucas Moura saga ends (before we have a chance to care)

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At some point this summer, the soccer world decided it cared about Lucas Moura. As the European offseason persisted, the fervor increased, and soon Lucas’s buzz fell somewhere between Neymar and Paulo Henrique Ganso, two players who’ve long established their South American bonafides.

A 19-year-old attacking midfielder from Sao Paulo, Lucas had 14 goals in 59 Brasileirao games (over three seasons), but aside from some juice created by a prolonged, spurious link to Chelsea (who isn’t linked to Chelsea?), Lucas’s rumor mill popularity was fueled by the notion he’d be one of Manchester United’s few summer signings. Though on the Brazil Olympic team, he isn’t a starter. He didn’t even appear in their semifinal victory over South Korea (though he has 15 senior caps). His resume didn’t justify the transfer market’s fixation.

The story seemed surreal. In a summer that’s been uncharacteristically devoid of real transfer news, the media’s persistence with a 19-year-old who wasn’t making a major impact on his league or national team was hard to reconcile. What made Lucas more important that tens of other Brazilian prospects dodging millions in European speculation? Why is he getting daily headlines when his more accomplished Olympic teammates played in relative obscurity?

We’d never get an answer. Before we could figure out why we were supposed to care about Lucas Moura, he was on the move.

When Inter Milan’s interest became known last month, Lucas’s price became absurd. An evaluation that had was initially reported at near $30 million had climbed closer to $45 million. Then Paris Saint-Germain joined the party, and the whole thing made sense.

Of course the incredible spenders would make the bizarre buy! Otherwise, we’d have to make sense out of why a team like Manchester United or Inter Milan got sold a ticket to this bizarre.

Today, Paris Saint-Germain announced the signing of Lucas Moura. He will join the Parisians in January, after finishing the season in Brazil for the largest fee ever paid a South American club. Five days before his 20th birthday, Lucas cost Paris Saint-Germain an estimated $43 million. For perspective, consider two-time Ligue 1 Player of the Year Eden Hazard moved from Lille to Chelsea for $50 million.

When he arrives in Paris, Lucas will join a Brazilian continent that includes Thiago Silva, Nene, Alex, and Maxwell. He’ll fight for time with Nene in a group of attackers that includes Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ezequiel Lavezzi, Kevin Gameiro, Jeremy Menez, and Guillaume Hoarau.

Moura is a very talented player who, in a couple of years, will likely make a number of Ligue 1 left backs look very silly. But the 15th-highest transfer fee in history seems high, especially for somebody who won’t play immediately and may not play once he arrives.

Moura cost PSG as much as Barcelona paid for David Villa, though if you only just by this video, he might (eventually) be worth it: