NEYMAR PLEDGES TROPHIES TO PSG FANS
Brazilian superstar presented at PSG home ground but misses French League opener
Paris, France - Brazilian superstar Neymar received a hero's welcome from Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) fans at their Parc des Princes home on Saturday as he vowed to win "lots of trophies" following his world record transfer. The 25 year old was presented to fans on the pitch ahead of PSG’s opening French League match of the season at home to Amiens, which it won 2-0.
"Thank you! I'm very happy, I'm delighted to be here for this new challenge," said Neymar as fireworks went off around him and fans chanted his name over and again. "I want to win lots of trophies with you and I need your support to win these trophies," added the former Barcelona and Santos star.
"Paris is magic!" he said in French before calling out the club's motto, Ici, c'est Paris! - Here, it's Paris. The club replicated his linguistic efforts with a message beamed around its digital advertising hoardings in Portuguese, "Bem-vindo Neymar Jr" - Welcome Neymar Jr.
The Brazilian, who cost a staggering US$264mn, then delighted fans by running over to the end where PSG's most hardcore supporters converge and launched his jersey into the throng of delirious 'Ultras'.
Hopes the Brazil captain would make his debut for the club on Saturday were dashed by red tape as his international transfer certificate wasn't lodged in time with the French League, meaning he had to watch his new teammates from the stands against Amiens.
The French governing body, the LFP, needed receipt of the international transfer certificate by midnight on Friday in France in order to register Neymar to be able to play on Saturday afternoon. But as the clock ticked down on Friday evening, the LFP
was still to receive the documents from the Spanish football authorities.
Spanish League officials have been highly critical of the move in recent days with president Javier Tebas stating that the Spanish League will make a complaint and accusing the
French club of 'financial doping'.
But PSG had already started to recoup a part of its massive outlay on Neymar on Friday when he was officially unveiled as the most expensive player in history at US$264mn. More than 10,000 shirts were sold in a single day, bringing in around
US$1.2mn. PSG is also expected to sell another 15,000 shirts on Saturday while a 45,000 sell-out crowd watched the opening game of the season.
And money was the subject of most of the questions fired at the Brazilian when he was unveiled to the media on Friday after arriving in the French capital on a private jet to sign a five-year contract with the Qatari-owned club.
"I want something bigger, a greater challenge," said Neymar, who is poised to earn around US$35.3mn a year.
Neymar admitted that leaving Barcelona, where he formed part of a lethal attacking trio with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, was not a decision he took lightly.
"It was one of my most difficult decisions. In Barcelona I had adapted well to the city and the team. I had friends there and it has not been easy," he said.
"It was a tense time, thinking about what I should do in my life. I have left behind a lot of friends, but things go very fast in football."
Neymar will become the second highest-paid player in the world - behind Carlos Tevez and his US45mn a year at Shanghai Shenhua but ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo's US$28mn annual salary at Real Madrid. The transfer fee shattered the previous world record of US$124mn set by Manchester United in signing France midfielder Paul Pogba last year from Juventus.
It is an eye-watering sum, but one that PSG president Nasser al Khelaifi insisted will eventually look like a bargain for the player who came third in the Ballon d'Or in 2015 behind Messi and Ronaldo. "There are not two Neymars in the world. I would love for us to meet in two years and see what his value will be compared to today. At least double," said Khelaifi.
"I don't think it's expensive, I'm convinced we are going to earn more money with him. It's a project of two brands: we're associating the Neymar brand and the PSG brand."
On Saturday, Khelaifi was focused more on success on the pitch as he hopes Neymar will help PSG win back the French League crown it lost to Monaco last year, and finally land the coveted Champions League. "We have a great star, a great player here with us today," he said.
"Now we're going to work hard to win lots of trophies."
Neymar shows his ball skills during his official presentation at the Parc des Princes Stadium in Paris, France, on Saturday
Neymar (centre) waves to the crowd as PSG president Nasser al Khelaifi (left) looks on during his presentation to the fans in Paris on Saturday