Record trans­fer to PSG places Brazil icon at fore­front of soc­cer’s lat­est cash splash

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS -

BARCELONA — Ney­mar could be pre­sented as a Paris Saint-Ger­main player as early as this week­end af­ter Barcelona ad­mit­ted de­feat in con­vinc­ing the Brazil­ian to stay at Camp Nou on Wed­nes­day.

Af­ter say­ing good­bye to his Barca team­mates, the 25-year-old for­ward de­parted for Porto by pri­vate jet, sur­rounded by an en­tourage that in­cluded his father and agent Ney­mar Sr and Wag­ner Ribeiro, an ad­viser who said PSG would pay the player’s $262 mil­lion buy­out clause in the “com­ing hours”.

That would more than dou­ble the cur­rent trans­fer record of $111 mil­lion set by Paul Pogba’s move to Manch­ester United last year.

Me­dia re­ports sug­gested Ney­mar had gone to Porto, where PSG sport­ing di­rec­tor An­tero Hen­rique had worked un­til re­cently, to un­dergo a pre-trans­fer med­i­cal.

Sources told AFP he will ar­rive in Paris on Thurs­day af­ter­noon.

Ear­lier, Barcelona ended weeks of spec­u­la­tion by pub­licly con­firm­ing for the first time the player’s wish to leave af­ter four years at Camp Nou.

“Ney­mar Jr, ac­com­pa­nied by his father and rep­re­sen­ta­tive, com­mu­ni­cated to FC Barcelona this morn­ing his de­ci­sion to leave the club,” Barca said in a state­ment posted on the club’s web­site.

“The club has in­formed them that the buy­out clause in his con­tract must be paid in full.”

Ney­mar has been tempted to Paris by an astro­nom­i­cal of­fer that would re­port­edly see his af­ter-tax wages triple to $35 mil­lion an­nu­ally.

How­ever, on the field he also faces the chal­lenge of step­ping out of the shadow of five-time World Player of the Year Li­onel Messi in try­ing to prove him­self the world’s best.

“It was a huge plea­sure hav­ing shared all those years with you, my friend @ney­marjr,” Messi posted on In­sta­gram along­side a mon­tage dis­play­ing some of the pair’s finest mo­ments to­gether.

“I wish you lots of luck in this new stage in your life. See you soon tkm,” he added. (‘Tkm’ stands for te quiero mu­cho or ‘I love you loads’.)

“Thanks brother. I will miss you man,” Ney­mar replied.

Pre­sum­ing both clubs don’t come to a late agree­ment, the buy­out clause would have to be paid to Barcelona via Spain’s La Liga to free the player from the con­tract he signed last year and runs un­til 2021.

How­ever, La Liga pres­i­dent Javier Te­bas has threat­ened not to ac­cept PSG’s money over what he per­ceives as a fail­ure on the French side’s part to com­ply with UEFA’s fi­nan­cial fair play rules (FFP).

Clubs can be sanc­tioned by UEFA for mak­ing a loss of more than $35 mil­lion over a three-year pe­riod.

“We will not ac­cept this money from a club like PSG,” Te­bas told Madrid sports daily AS on Wed­nes­day. “Es­pe­cially when this club is in­fring­ing rules and laws.”

Win­ning the Cham­pi­ons League for a first time is the dream driv­ing PSG own­ers Oryx Qatar Sports In­vest­ments to fund a deal that could her­ald the start of a new era at the elite level of Euro­pean soc­cer

Since QSI’s takeover in 2011, PSG has failed to ad­vance be­yond the quar­ter­fi­nals — most no­tably blow­ing a 4-0 first leg lead to lose 6-1 to Barcelona in the last 16 of last sea­son’s com­pe­ti­tion in March.

Coax­ing Ney­mar from the grip of Barca would truly an­nounce PSG’s pres­ence as a con­tender for the likes of Barca, Real Madrid and Bay­ern Mu­nich to fear.

Ney­mar has formed one of the dead­li­est strike part­ner­ships in soc­cer his­tory with Messi and Luis Suarez over the past three sea­sons.

To­gether they have won two La Liga ti­tles, a Cham­pi­ons League and three Span­ish Cups, while Ney­mar has scored 105 goals and pro­vided 80 as­sists in just 186 games.

How­ever, his four-year spell in Spain has also been over­shad­owed by the murky trans­fer deal that brought him to Barcelona from San­tos in 2013.

He and his par­ents as well as Barca pres­i­dent Josep Maria Bar­tomeu face charges of fraud and cor­rup­tion in an on­go­ing case brought by DIS, a Brazil­ian in­vest­ment com­pany.

DIS owned 40 per­cent of the player’s rights at the time of the deal and be­lieve they were de­lib­er­ately cheated out of their real share due to the com­plex struc­ture of the trans­fer.

Mean­while, Brazil fans see Ney­mar as the key to a sixth World Cup ti­tle in Rus­sia next year and the first Brazil­ian to win the Bal­lon d’Or since Kaka in 2007.

In a re­cent poll car­ried out by Globoe­s­ 75 per­cent of fans fa­vored his trans­fer away from Barcelona.

In Brazil, Ney­mar is an icon, and the trans­fer has be­come a na­tional is­sue.

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