Brazil superstar Neymar received a hero’s welcome from the Paris Saint-Germain faithful on Saturday as he vowed to win “lots of trophies” following his world record transfer.
The 25-year-old was presented to fans at the club’s Parc des Princes stadium ahead of a 2-0 victory over Amiens in their opening Ligue 1 match of the new campaign.
“Thank you! I’m very happy, I’m delighted to be here for this new challenge,” said Neymar as fireworks went off around him and fans chanted his name over and again.
“I want to win lots of trophies with you and I need your support to win these trophies,” added the former Barcelona and Santos star.
“Paris is magic!” he said in French before calling out the club’s motto: “Ici, c’est Paris!” – Here, it’s Paris.
Hopes the Brazil captain would make his debut for the club were dashed by red tape as his international transfer certificate wasn’t lodged in time with the French league, meaning he had to watch his new team-mates from the stands.
He was hardly missed as PSG strolled to an easy victory with goals from South American pair Edinson Cavani and Javier Pastore, the latter whose place in the team could come under threat by Neymar.
PSG had already started to recuperate part of Neymar’s mammoth transfer fee on Friday when he was officially unveiled as the most expensive player in history at €222 million ($264m).
The club sold more than 10,000 shirts with his name and No.10 on the back on Friday, bringing in around one million euros.
They also expected to sell another 15,000 shirts on Saturday while a 45,000 sell-out crowd watched the opening game.
And money was the subject of most of the questions fired at the Brazilian when he was unveiled to the media on Friday after arriving in the French capital on a private jet to sign a five-year contract with the Qatari-owned club.
“I want something bigger, a greater challenge,” said Neymar, who is poised to earn around 30 million euros a year.
Neymar admitted that leaving Barcelona, where he formed part of a lethal attacking trio with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, was not a decision he took lightly.
“It was one of my most difficult decisions. In Barcelona I had adapted well to the city and the team,” he said.
“It was a tense time, thinking about what I should do in my life.”
His PSG teammate Dani Alves, who once played with Neymar at Barcelona, said the new arrival had persuaded him to move to Paris from Juventus this summer.
“Contrary to what people think, it was he who advised me to sign for PSG,” said Alves after Saturday’s game. “It wasn’t me who was telling him to come here.”
Neymar will become the second highest-paid player in the world – behind Carlos Tevez and his €38 million a year at Shanghai Shenhua but ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo’s 23.6 million euros annual salary at Real Madrid.
The transfer fee shattered the previous world record of €105 million set by Manchester United in signing France midfielder Paul Pogba last year from Juventus.
Neymar Jr presentation at the parc des princes https://t.co/NwUh94FSjL— PSG Officiel (@PSG_inside) August 5, 2017
It is an eye-watering sum, but one that PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi insisted will eventually look like a bargain.
“There are not two Neymars in the world. I would love for us to meet in two years and see what his value will be compared to today. At least double,” said Al-Khelaifi.
“I don’t think it’s expensive, I’m convinced we are going to earn more money with him. It’s a project of two brands: we’re associating the Neymar brand and the PSG brand.”
There is 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.
But on Saturday, Al-Khelaifi was focused more on success on the pitch as he hopes Neymar will help PSG win back the Ligue 1 crown they lost to Monaco last year, and finally land the coveted Champions League.
“We have a great star, a great player here with us today,” he said.
“Now we’re going to work hard to win lots of trophies.”
Andre Villas-Boas believes the heady days of big spending in the Chinese league are over, calling swingeing new regulations that stymied the transfer market “a big surprise”.
The Shanghai SIPG coach has the Brazilian stars Oscar and Hulk at the club after Chinese Super League (CSL) teams splashed the cash in the winter and in transfer windows before that.
But the Chinese Football Association (CFA) moved to limit the largesse and in the most recent summer transfer window clubs mostly signed freebies, loanees and has-beens.
The most high-profile arrival was French striker Anthony Modeste to Tianjin Quanjian – who Villas-Boas and his Shanghai side face on Sunday in the CSL.
Modeste joined Tianjin on loan from Cologne in Germany with a view to a 29-million-euro permanent move, but Villas-Boas said Saturday: “The change of regulations implicates that the market will probably stop in China regarding this kind of (expensive) transfer.
“We will see how it moves forward next year. For now the market is closed, (players can) only exit and when it opens (in the winter) we will see. “But I don’t think the spending will continue as it was before.”
Attacking midfielder Oscar joined SIPG in January from Chelsea for an Asian-record €60 million.
But with him, Hulk and another Brazilian Elkeson firing the side to second in the CSL this season, Villas-Boas said the club had not planned “to do a lot” in the past transfer window, irrespective of the new rules.
In June, just as the window opened, the CFA said Chinese clubs paying more than 45 million yuan (€5.7 million) for a foreign player would need to pay a 100 percent surcharge to a fund to develop the local game.
The move was designed to discourage heavy spending on overseas players and instead see cash go on promoting Chinese players.
Villas-Boas, a former Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur manager, said the mid-season changes came as a nasty surprise.
“What we were expecting before, in the beginning of the season (in March) was for the rules not to change.
“This was the big surprise of this season.”
Provided by AFP Sport
Another day in football, another wave of transfer rumours to keep up on. Take a look at the most recent names and gossip being floated around in the media.
Will any of the following deals happen?
Barcelona have entered the race to sign Monaco winger Thomas Lemar, according to L’Equipe.
The Catalans see the 21-year-old as the ideal replacement for Neymar and have now emerged as one of the leading clubs to sign the left-sided player.
Arsenal have had three bids rejected by Monaco for the Frenchman, while Manchester City and Liverpool have also inquired about securing his services.
SPORT 360 VERDICT
Lemar makes sense as a replacement for Neymar but he is not as prolific as the Brazilian in the final third.
The Frenchman was underrated as part of Leonardo Jardim’s side last season, but his tireless work and movement off the ball, would add another layer to an already lethal front three.
At 21, his best years are yet to come, which represents another significant boost for Barcelona in the long run.
The midfielder is ready to tell Leicester City that he wants to join Chelsea, according to The Mirror.
Chelsea wanted to sign Drinkwater last summer, along with N’Golo Kante, but the Foxes wouldn’t allow a double swoop.
Blues boss Antonio Conte has been impressed with the 27-year-old’s work rate and wants to sign him before the end of the transfer window.
Leicester will again have no interest in selling Drinkwater, so it’s a matter of how much the player himself wants to leave.
The Englishman only put pen to paper on a new four-year contract last summer so he may be tempted to stay around the comforts of the King Power Stadium.
However, with Nemanja Matic leaving Stamford Bridge, there remains a position to fill, and a move for Drinkwater would put him in a formidable position of challenging for trophies once again.
The Sun are reporting that Monaco are ready to make a £45 million bid for Arsenal striker Alexis Sanchez.
Arsene Wenger has previously said that he expects the Chilean international to see out the final year on his contract and will not be sold prior to this.
But Monaco will seek to offer Wenger a way to avoid losing Sanchez on a free transfer next summer.
An approach from the French side would certainly interest the Chilean, and with a tax free salary of around €332,000 per week and the lure of the Monte Carlo lifestyle, it’s a move not to rule out just yet.
Although Sanchez would prefer to stay in England – with Chelsea and Manchester City interested – it is expected that he will remain at the Emirates Stadium this season before departing North London for another club.