Brazilian international Neymar has finally completed his world-record €222m transfer to Paris Saint-Germain from Barcelona after weeks of speculation.
The 25-year-old star has signed a five-year contract worth £500,000 a week and is in line to make his debut on Saturday at home to Amiens in Ligue 1. He will wear the No 10 shirt, as revealed by Dugout.
Neymar, who will be officially unveiled at 1.30pm French time on Friday at a press conference, 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 team-mates 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 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 team-mates, to open up new horizons for my club and to bring happiness to its millions of supporters around the world.’
Neymar had to buy himself out of his contract with Barcelona in order to complete his move to France following a battle between the French and Spanish leagues over the payment of his world-record fee.
The head of Spain’s La Liga, Javier Tebas, did his best to sabotage the transfer by rejecting attempts by the Brazilian to pay his buy-out fee at the league offices on Thursday morning.
With the French season starting on Friday and Neymar desperate to make his PSG debut against Amiens, the Spanish League — still reeling from losing a poster-boy player — appeared to have succeeded in bringing the deal to a temporary halt.
But the sports lawyer representing Neymar, Juan de Dios Crespo, later deposited the cheque directly with Barcelona to free the player to be presented as PSG’s new signing.
Tebas believes the French side are breaking financial fair play regulations with the world record transfer and has also pointed the finger at Qatar’s government, who he claims are bankrolling the club with financial injections tantamount to illegal state aid.
PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi was jubilant at securing Neymar’s arrival.
‘It is with immense joy and pride that we welcome Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain,’ he said.
‘His winning mentality, strength of character and sense of leadership have made him into a great player.
‘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, I am convinced that we will come even closer, with the support of our faithful fans, to realising our greatest dreams.’
Neymar’s exit so close to the start of La Liga season on 20 August doesn’t look good for Barcelona. His exit dismantles their formidable three-pronged attack, affectionately known as ‘MSN’, which comprised of the Brazilian, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.
Neymar posted an emotional message ab after his exitHis post read: ‘The life of an athlete is made by challenges. Some are given to us, others are fruits of our own decisions to keep the light that illuminates our career, which is intense, but short.
‘Barcelona was much more than a challenge, it was the dream of a child, who played with those stars through the video game. I arrived in Catalonia when I was 21, filled with challenges.
‘I can still remember my first days in the Club, sharing the changing room with idols like Messi, Valdes, Xavi, Iniesta, Puyol, Pique, Busquets and many others. Waiting my turn to play in a club that’s ‘more than a club’. Barcelona is a nation that represents Catalonia!
‘I had the honour of playing with the best athlete I have ever seen in my life and I am sure I will never see another one like him while I’m alive. Leo Messi became my friend in and out of the pitch. It was an honour to play with you.
‘I made a trio with Messi and Suarez that made history, conquered everything an athlete can conquer, lived unforgettable moments, lived in a city that is more than a city, it is a homeland. I love Barcelona and Catalonia.
‘But an athlete (me) needs challenges. And for the second time in my life I will contradict my father.
‘Papa, I understand and respect your opinion, but my decision is made and I ask you to support me as you always do.
‘So, go with God and be happy, ok son. But run! Kiss, I’m running up here with you.’
‘Barcelona and Catalonia will always be in my heart but I need new challenges.
‘I have accepted the proposal of PSG to try new achievements and help the Club to win the titles that their crowd wants. They showed me a daring career plan and I feel ready to take on this challenge.
‘I thank the wonderful Blaugrana crowd and all that I have learned from the athletes with whom I had the chance to share the dressing room.
‘Now I feel in my heart that it’s time to leave. PSG will be my home for the next years and I will work hard to honour all of the trust placed in my football.
‘I’m counting on the support of all of you who have been with me since 2009. Fans, friends, professionals who are with me and my family, who suffered a lot with some problems that took place during that period in my career. Today you deserve peace.
‘It’s a very hard decision, but I made it with the maturity I accumulated throughout those 25 years.
‘Barcelona, thank you for everything. PSG, I am coming!! May God bless and protect us!’
Neymar has picked the same No 10 shirt as former PSG striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Brazilian icon Ronaldinho, who spent his first years in Europe in Paris.