Ney­mar signs deal in record trans­fer

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - SPORTS -

PARIS — Six years af­ter tak­ing over peren­nial un­der­achiever Paris Saint-Ger­main, the French club’s wealthy own­ers fi­nally got what they wanted by hir­ing Ney­mar — a player they be­lieve will bring them Cham­pi­ons League glory.The Brazil star be­came the most ex­pen­sive player in soc­cer his­tory af­ter com­plet­ing his block­buster trans­fer from Barcelona for $262 mil­lion Thurs­day. By pay­ing the re­lease clause in his con­tract, PSG shat­tered the world trans­fer record to sign ar­guably one of the top three best at­tack­ing play­ers in the game, along­side Lionel Messi and Cris­tiano Ron­aldo.

The pre­vi­ous trans­fer record had been set a year ago when Manch­ester United paid $116 mil­lion to bring Paul Pogba back from Ju­ven­tus.

Iron­i­cally, Ney­mar, 25, signed a five-year con­tract with the French league side just five months af­ter play­ing a de­ci­sive role as Barcelona pro­duced a come­back that made Cham­pi­ons League his­tory — at PSG’s ex­pense.

Hav­ing lost their first leg match 4-0 in France, Barcelona was trail­ing 5-3 on ag­gre­gate in the 88th minute in Spain, only for Ney­mar to score twice in the fi­nal min­utes be­fore Sergi Roberto’s win­ner in added time sealed

a hu­mil­i­at­ing exit from the Round of 16 for PSG.

Next sea­son, it will be dif­fer­ent.

“Paris Saint-Ger­main’s am­bi­tion at­tracted me to the club, along with the pas­sion and the en­ergy this brings,” Ney­mar said in com­ments re­leased by PSG. “I 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 would cer­tainly wel­come the kind of suc­cess that Ney­mar en­joyed in Spain.

In his four sea­sons there, Ney­mar scored 105 goals as Barcelona won the Cham­pi­ons League, Club World Cup, two Span­ish league ti­tles and Copa del Rey three times.

Now he will look to emerge from the shadow of five-time world player of the year Messi at Barcelona,

be­com­ing the big­gest star in the French league in a team without the track record of suc­cess to match his for­mer club.

While Barcelona has lifted the Euro­pean Cup five times and won the FIFA Club World Cup three times, PSG is yet to win ei­ther pres­ti­gious com­pe­ti­tion.

Since Qatar Sports In­vest­ments took over the club in June 2011, PSG has spent sev­eral hun­dred mil­lion dol­lars on top-class play­ers — in­clud­ing the likes of Zla­tan Ibrahi­movic, Marco Ver­ratti

and Edin­son Ca­vani — in its ef­fort to build a team ca­pa­ble of win­ning Europe’s top club com­pe­ti­tion.

But the big names were not enough to bring suc­cess on the con­ti­nen­tal stage, and PSG has yet to make it through the quar­ter­fi­nals of the Cham­pi­ons League un­der its Qatari own­ers.

Maybe that’s about to change.

“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.”

It’s a mis­sion that is clearly shared by the club’s top man­age­ment.

“Ney­mar Jr. is to­day one of the very best play­ers in world foot­ball. His win­ning men­tal­ity, strength of char­ac­ter and sense of lead­er­ship have made him into a great player,” PSG Pres­i­dent Nasser Al-Khe­laifi said. “He will bring a very pos­i­tive en­ergy to this club.

“In six years, we have built a very am­bi­tious project that has al­ready taken us to the high­est level of na­tional and Euro­pean foot­ball. To­day, with the ar­rival of Ney­mar Jr., I am con­vinced that we will come even closer, with the sup­port of our faith­ful fans, to re­al­iz­ing our great­est dreams.”

PSG’s an­nounce­ment put an end to a saga that started about two weeks ago with ru­mors of his pos­si­ble trans­fer, though the club had al­ready tried to lure him last sum­mer.

AP/ADAM HUNGER

Brazil’s Ney­mar be­came soc­cer’s most ex­pen­sive player Thurs­day af­ter com­plet­ing a trans­fer from Barcelona to French club Paris Saint-Ger­main for $262 mil­lion.

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