Brazilian superstar Neymar was expected in the French capital early Friday, promising to bring glory to Paris Saint-Germain after signing a world record transfer deal with the ambitious Qatari-owned club.
The 25-year-old forward doubled the previous record fee with his €222 million move from Barcelona and will earn a reported €30 million a year under the new deal.
“I am extremely happy to join Paris Saint-Germain,” Neymar said late Thursday.
“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.
“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 teammates, to open up new horizons for my club and to bring happiness to its millions of supporters around the world.”
PSG said that Neymar will appear at a press conference at the club’s Parc des Princes at 1130GMT on Friday.
He will then be presented to fans at the same ground at 1345GMT on Saturday before the season-opening Ligue 1 fixture against promoted Amiens.
PSG wasted no time in pressing Neymar’s commercial value by announcing that shirts bearing his name will be on sale from 10h00 am (0800 GMT) Friday at the club’s megastore on the city’s iconic Champs Elysees.
Football legend Pele congratulated Neymar on his move, telling his successor in the famed Brazilian number 10 shirt: “Good luck for your new challenge”.
“Paris is a beautiful city and one of my favourites in the world,” three-time World Cup winner Pele wrote on Twitter.
The transfer is more than double the previous world 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.
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.”
However, in the French capital there is huge excitement at PSG having landed 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.
“Paris at his feet”, splashed Le Parisien as Neymar dominated the French front pages Friday.
“A king comes to Paris,” crowed L’Equipe newspaper.
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.”
Spain’s La Liga initially refused to accept payment for Neymar’s buyout clause in a bid to stall the move over allegations of transfer irregularities, but Neymar’s ex-teammates wished him 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.”
Provided by AFP
Manchester United were put on red alert when Real Madrid revealed they are ready to unload GARETH BALE to make way for Monaco’s KYLIAN MBAPPE. Spanish newspaper Marca reported that boss Zinedine Zidane is increasingly confident of landing the 18-year-old striker.
The Independent claim Chelsea striker DIEGO COSTA will hand in a formal transfer request with the Premier League champions, while the Daily Mirror say Costa’s lawyer has vowed to “hold Chelsea accountable” for forcing the forward out of the club.
The Sun claim Monaco are to test Arsenal’s resolve with a £45million bid for contract rebel ALEXIS SANCHEZ.
@talkSPORT: Birmingham boss Harry Redknapp reveals Badu snub, confirms £3k-a-week Ravel Morrison offer.
@SkyKaveh: Bournemouth have made an offer in the region of £20m for Leicester winger Demarai Gray. Offer has been rejected. Gray not for sale.
@IBTimesUKSport: Exclusive: Liverpool receive Watford approach to sign Alberto Moreno.
FERNANDO: The Manchester City player touched down in Turkey and has held discussions over a three-year contract with Galatasaray worth £52,000 a week, according to the Daily Mail.
MOUSSA SISSOKO: The Tottenham midfielder is in talks over a loan move to Turkish side Trabzonspor, report The Chronicle.
THOMAS VERMAELEN: The Birmingham Mail believe Belgian club Anderlecht have entered the race to sign the 31-year-old Barcelona defender, who is also a target for West Brom.
Neymar bid farewell to Barcelona in a heartfelt Instagram post after joining Paris St Germain for €222 million to become the most expensive footballer of all time.
The Brazil forward, whose legal representatives on Thursday paid Barcelona the world-record fee to terminate the contract which tied him to the Catalan giants, has signed a five-year deal with the Ligue 1 club.
The 25-year-old spearheaded a lethal front three alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez at Camp Nou over the past four years, scoring 364 goals as triumvirate.
In his Instagram video, he said: “Barcelona was much more than a challenge. It was a dream of a child who played with those stars through the video game. I arrived in Catalonia at 21 years old filled with challenges.
“I still remember my first days at 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 ‘mes que un club’.
“Barcelona is a nation that represents Catalonia. I had the honour to play with the best athlete I’ve ever seen in my life and I’m sure that I will never see another one like him while I’m alive. Leo Messi, who became my friend on and off 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.
“Barcelona and Catalonia will always be in my heart, but I need new challenges. I accepted PSG’s proposition to try new achievements and help the club win the titles their fans want. They showed me a daring career plan and I feel ready to take on this challenge.”
La vida de un deportista se mueve por desafíos. Algunos son impuestos, otros son fruto de nuestras decisiones. El Barcelona ha sido más que un desafío. Jugaba con aquellos cracks en el video juego. Llegué a Catalunya a los 21 años, lleno de desafíos. Recuerdo mis primeros días en el Club, compartiendo el vestuario con ídolos como Messi, Valdés, Xavi, Iniesta, Puyol, Piqué, Busquets y otros con la expectativa de jugar en un Club que es “més que un club”. El @fcbarcelona es una nación que representa a Catalunya! Tuve el honor de actuar con el mayor atleta que he visto en mi vida y estoy seguro que no veré a otro mejor, @leomessi se convirtió en mi compañero, amigo dentro y fuera del terreno de juego. Orgulloso de jugar contigo. Formé un ataque con @leomessi y @luissuarez9 que ha quedado para la historia. He conquistado todo lo que un deportista puede conquistar. He vivido momentos inolvidables! Vivo en una ciudad que es más que una ciudad, es una patria. Amo Barcelona y Catalunya. Pero un deportista (YO) necesita desafíos. Y por segunda vez en mi vida le llevaré la contraria a mi papa. Papa, entiendo y respeto tu opinión, pero mi decisión está tomada, te pido que me apoyes como siempre lo has hecho. El @fcbarcelona y Catalunya estarán siempre en mi corazón pero necesito nuevos desafíos. He aceptado la propuesta del @psg para buscar nuevas conquistas y ayudar al Club a alcanzar los títulos que la afición espera. Me han presentado un plan de carrera osado y me veo preparado para este desafío. Agradezco el cariño de la afición blaugrana y todo lo que he aprendido con los deportistas con quien he compartido vestuario. Asimismo siento en mi corazón que ha llegado el momento de irme. El @psg será mi nueva casa durante los próximos años y trabajaré para hacer honor a la confianza que depositan en mi futbol. Cuento mucho con el apoyo de todos. Aficionados, de mis amigos, de los profesionales que me acompañan y de mi familia, que ha sufrido mucho con problemas que han ocurrido en este periodo de mi carrera y merecen paz. Es una decisión difícil, pero tomada con la madurez de mis 25 años. @fcbarcelona , gràcies per tot! @psg , J'arrive! Que Dios nos bendiga y nos proteja!