MADRID: Neymar’s blockbuster 222 million euros ($263 million) transfer to French side Paris St Germain appeared close to completion on Wednesday, when Barcelona admitted defeat in convincing the Brazilian to stay at the Camp Nou.
Neymar’s team-mate Lionel Messi posted a farewell message on social media to the Brazilian, whose agent Wagner Ribeiro, an advisor to the player, claimed PSG would pay Barca’s asking price in the “coming hours” to more than double the current transfer record set by Paul Pogba’s 89.3 million ($111 million, 105.2 million euros) move to Manchester United last year.
“After Neymar gave me the green light on August 1, I went to Paris and brought PSG’s offer to pay the [buyout] clause, which will be done in the next hours,” Ribeiro said while entering the Barcelona airport with Neymar.
Ribeiro refused to say where Neymar was flying to.
The move would complete a hectic few days in which Neymar’s heavily trailed exit has inched closer.
Events moved swiftly on Wednesday when Barca released a statement announcing that the 25-year-old had informed them of his intention to end a four-year stay at the club, and confirming the amount of his buy-out clause.
“The player Neymar Jr, accompanied by his father and agent, has informed FC Barcelona this morning of his decision to leave the club in a meeting held at the clubs offices,” Barca said in a statement.
“The club have informed them that the buyout clause in his contract, that from July 1 is 222 million euros, must be paid in full.”
Before meeting with Barca’s executives, Neymar spent 30 minutes at the club’s training ground in Sant Joan Despi telling Messi, his other team-mates and coach Ernesto Valverde that he wanted to leave.
Valverde gave him permission to miss practice as the team prepares for its first official match against Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup on August 13.
Neymar has been tempted to Paris by an astronomical offer that would reportedly see his wages tripled to 30 million euros a year after tax.
However, on the field he also faces the challenge of stepping out of the shadow of five-time World Player of the Year Messi to try and prove himself as the world’s best.
“It was a huge pleasure having shared all those years with you, my friend Neymar,” Messi wrote in Spanish on Instagram alongside a montage displaying some of the pair’s finest moments together.
“I wish you lots of luck in this new stage in your life. See you soon tkm,” he added. “Tkm” stands for “te quiero mucho” (I love you loads).
Last year, Neymar signed a new contract with Barca that tied him to the Catalan club through 2021 with the buy-out clause raised.
Presuming both clubs don’t come to a late agreement, the buyout clause would have to be paid to Barca via Spain’s La Liga to free the player from the contract.
However, La Liga president Javier Tebas has threatened not to accept PSG’s money over what he perceives as a failure on the French side’s part to comply with UEFA’s financial fair play rules (FFP).
Clubs can be sanctioned by UEFA for making a loss of more than 30 million euros over a three-year period.
“We will not accept this money from a club like PSG,” Tebas told Madrid sports daily AS on Wednesday. “Especially when this club is infringing rules and laws.”
However, UEFA said on Wednesday that no complaint had been received, adding that European football’s governing body would not block any potential deal in advance.
“UEFA will look into the details of this transfer in due course to ensure PSG are compliant with FFP requirements,” the UEFA statement said.
“The transfer of Neymar to PSG will have an effect on the club finances over several years but the impact of such an operation cannot be judged in advance, notably as PSG could well sell several players for a significant amount.
“We shall therefore only make calculations at the end and make sure that they respect the rules.”
PSG are one of the world’s richest clubs following their 2012 takeover by Qatar Sports Investments, an arm of Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund, which has transformed their fortunes.
Under the fair play rules – which Uefa’s FFP project leader Andrea Traverso was last week quoted by Italian newspaper Gazetta dello Sport as saying PSG were currently following — a club’s wage bill must not exceed 70 percent of its revenue.
PSG’s 2015/16 revenue came to 521 million euros, according to Deloitte’s Football Money League report issued in January.
Media sources across Europe reported that Neymar is negotiating a potential six-year deal worth more than 550,000 euros a week. The striker only arrived back in Spain on Tuesday after trips to China and the Middle East.
Published in Dawn, August 3rd, 2017