Neymar now the most expensive soccer player in world
PARIS — Brazilian superstar Neymar has pledged to spark a trophy glut at Paris Saint-Germain after agreeing to a five-year deal on a world record $264 million transfer from Barcelona on Thursday.
The 25-year-old will earn a mind-boggling $35.5 million a year in Paris but insists he will prove value for money for the ambitious but under-performing Qatari-owned French side.
“I am extremely happy to join Paris Saint-Germain,” Neymar said.
“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 teammates is to help the club to conquer the titles that their fans want.
“Paris Saint-Germain’s ambition attracted me to the club, along with the passion and the energy this brings. I have played four seasons in Europe and I feel ready to take the challenge.
“From today, I will do everything I can to help my new teammates, to open up new horizons for my club and to bring happiness to its millions of supporters around the world.”
PSG said Neymar will be introduced at a press conference at the club’s Parc des Princes on Friday morning.
He will then be presented to fans at the same ground on Saturday before the seasonopening Ligue 1 match against promoted Amiens.
PSG wasted no time in pressing Neymar’s commercial value by announcing that shirts bearing his name will be on sale on Friday at the club’s megastore on the city’s iconic Champs Elysees.
Soccer legend Pele congratulated Neymar on his move, telling his successor in the famed Brazilian number 10 shirt: “Good luck for your new challenge”.
On Twitter, three-time World Cup winner Pele wrote: “Paris is a beautiful city and one of my favorites in the world.”
The transfer is more than double the previous world record set by Manchester United’s capture of Paul Pogba from Juventus last year for $125 million, leaving many commentators aghast at the rampant inflation in soccer transfer fees.
Leading coaches such as Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger and Manchester United’s Jose Mourinho lamented the move could trigger even greater inflation in transfer fees and player salaries.
“It also looks like the inflation is accelerating,” said Wenger, whose 21 years at Arsenal have been characterized by prudent spending.
“It’s beyond calculation and beyond rationality.”
President weighs in
But there is huge excitement in France at PSG having landed a star name to finally make it feared among European soccer’s elite, with even French President Emmanuel Macron enthused.
“It adds attractiveness. Yes, it’s very good news,” Macron said.
“Neymar to PSG — the transfer of the century!” splashed Le Parisien’s front page on Thursday, with the first five pages devoted to his impending arrival.
The mood is understandably more somber in Barcelona, where attention has turned to who the Catalans can sign to replace Neymar in the month before the transfer window closes.
Neymar’s Brazilian international teammate Philippe Coutinho of Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund’s Ousmane Dembele have both been linked.
There is also skepticism at the role played by PSG’s owners Oryx Qatar Sports Investments (QSI) at a time of political crisis for the energyrich state which has been boycotted by its Gulf neighbors in recent months and will play host to the World Cup in 2022.
Spanish newspaper El Mundo described the move as a “state signing.”
But while La Liga protests at losing one of its biggest stars, Barca players have continued to wish their now former teammate well.
“My friend, I wish you the best in everything that comes!!!” Luis Suarez posted on Instagram alongside a picture of the two forwards hugging.
“Also thank you for your support, for everything that I learned with you and for the unique moments that we spent together!!!! Keep like this and never change. Love you, little bro.”
Earlier on Thursday, Spain’s soccer league threatened to stall the transfer by initially refusing to accept the check presented by Neymar’s representatives at its Madrid headquarters.
La Liga president Javier Tebas had accused the French club of breaching UEFA’s financial fair play rules, designed to promote parity.
Clubs can be sanctioned by European soccer’s governing body for making a loss of more than $35 million over a threeyear period.
However, UEFA insisted the move will not automatically trigger a failure to comply with FFP regulations, and approved the deal.