By Andrew Warshaw
August 4 – No more rumours, no more speculation. Just global disbelief. The protracted €222 million world record transfer of Brazil forward Neymar to Paris St Germain from Barcelona has finally been completed, with the Brazilian forward telling anyone who will listen that he needed a new challenge rather than the record-shattering move being just about the money.
The 25-year-old won seven major trophies in his four seasons at the Nou Camp, including the Champions League once and La Liga twice and admitted his father wanted him to stay at Barcelona.
“I have won all that a player can win,” said Neymar, who will reportedly earn €45 million a year on a five-year deal after buying out his own contract to move from Spain to France.
“Paris St-Germain’s ambition attracted me to the club, along with the passion and the energy this brings. I feel ready to take the challenge. I will do everything I can to help my new team-mates.”
“Since I arrived in Europe, the club has always been one of the most competitive and most ambitious. And the biggest challenge, what most motivated me to join my new team mates is to help the club to conquer the titles that their fans want.”
The transfer doubles the previous world record when Manchester United signed Paul Pogba from Juventus and whilst the fee is an eye-watering amount for one player, in truth there are only a handful of clubs who could afford such a staggering outlay. Barca now seem almost certain to try and use some of the money to bring in a raft of big-money signings that could set off a chain reaction of deals.
For PSG, who have tried desperately to win the Champions League, each year falling short, Neymar’s acquisition is the ultimate coup even though it is a huge gamble given the fact that when you add in his salary, the French club’s total outlay will be closer to €400 million.
“Today, with the arrival of Neymar Jr, I am convinced that we will come even closer, with the support of our faithful fans, to realising our greatest dreams,” said the club’s Qatari president Nasser Al-Khelaifi.
In the build-up to the move going through, both Barcelona and the Spanish league questioned whether PSG were in danger of again breaching UEFA’s financial fair play rules, with La Liga boss Javier Tebas having threatened to hold up the deal.
In Spain, a release clause can only be activated by a player buying himself out of his contract. Tebas had warned that the league would not accept the payment by PSG to trigger the release clause. In the end the Brazil international’s lawyers paid the sum in person at Barca’s offices.
Tebas has accused PSG, bankrolled by their Qatari owners, of “financial doping” and in a statement, Barca said they “will pass on to Uefa the details of the above operation so that they can determine the disciplinary responsibilities that may arise from this case”.
Neymar will be introduced to fans at PSG’s first game of the season against Amiens at Parc des Princes on Saturday, but is unlikely to play.
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