Tro­phy plans

Ney­mar now the most ex­pen­sive soc­cer player in world

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

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