Neymar signs five-year contract with Paris Saint-Germain
Paris, France | AFP | Neymar completed his world record transfer to Paris Saint-Germain on Thursday when he signed a five-year contract, the French club announced.
The 25-year-old Brazilian earlier broke his contract with Barcelona by paying a 222 million-euro ($264 million, £201 million) buyout clause.
Barca confirmed Neymar’s lawyers “made the payment of 222 million euros in the player’s name” to release him from the five-year contract he signed just last year.
His new mark is more than double the previous record set by Manchester United’s capture of Paul Pogba from Juventus last year for 105 million euros, leaving many commentators aghast at the rampant inflation in football transfer fees.
Earlier, Spain’s football league threatened to stall the saga by refusing to accept a cheque presented by Neymar’s representatives at its Madrid headquarters.
La Liga president Javier Tebas accused the French club of breaching UEFA’s financial fair play rules.
Clubs can be sanctioned by European football’s governing body for making a loss of more than 30 million euros over a three-year period.
However, UEFA insisted the move will not automatically trigger a failure to comply with FFP regulations.
“The transfer of Neymar to PSG will have an effect on the club’s 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,” UEFA said in a statement to AFP.
Barca added that they will aid UEFA in any future enquiry into whether the French side fall foul of regulations.
“The club will pass on to UEFA the details of the above operation so that they can determine the disciplinary responsibilities that may arise from this case,” continued the Barca statement.
Leading coaches such as Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger and Manchester United’s Jose Mourinho lamented that the move could cause even greater inflation in transfer fees and player wages.
“It also looks like the inflation is accelerating,” said Wenger, whose 21 years at Arsenal have been characterised by prudent spending.
“It’s beyond calculation and beyond rationality.”
– ‘Transfer of the century’ –
However, in the French capital there is huge excitement at PSG’s Qatari-backed project landing a star name to finally make them feared among European football’s elite with even French president Emmanuel Macron enthused.
“It adds attractiveness. Yes, it’s good news,” said Macron.
“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 sombre 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 scepticism at the role played by PSG’s owners Oryx Qatar Sports Investments (QSI) at a time of political crisis for the energy-rich state which has been boycotted by its Gulf neighbours 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 whilst La Liga protests at losing one of its biggest stars, Barca’s 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 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.”