Paris: Brazilian superstar striker Neymar Jr. inked a five-year deal with French football giants Paris Saint-Germain, bringing an end to his tenure with Spanish league powerhouse FC Barcelona.
The move came after the player’s representatives paid a record buyout clause of 222 million euros ($263 million), reports Efe.
“Paris Saint-Germain is very happy to announce the arrival of Neymar Jr. to the team. On Thursday, the Brazilian striker signed a five-year contract in the presence of the club’s representatives. Neymar Jr. is now committed to the French capital’s club until June 30, 2022,” PSG said in a statement.
The Qatari-owned Ligue 1 squad hailed the 25-year-old Brazilian national team star as “one of the top three players on the planet who has played at the very highest level for the past five years.”
“It is with immense joy and pride that we welcome Neymar Jr. to Paris Saint-Germain, Nasser Al-Khelaifi, PSG’s president, said.
“Today, with the arrival of Neymar Jr, I am convinced that we will come even closer, with the support of our faithful fans, to realising our greatest dreams.”
He was referring to PSG’s hopes of lifting its first-ever Champions League title.
The Parisian squad suffered a stunning collapse in last year’s Champions tournament, squandering a 4-0 advantage after the first leg against Neymar and Barcelona in round-of-16 action.
The Catalans stormed back to win 6-5 on aggregate thanks in part to two goals by Neymar in the waning minutes of the second leg.
“I am extremely happy to join Paris Saint-Germain,” Neymar Jr. was quoted as saying in the PSG statement.
“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.”
Before the transfer, FC Barcelona on Thursday confirmed that it had received Neymar’s massive 222-million-euro buyout clause from the player’s representatives.
The club made the announcement after the Spanish league, La Liga, had refused to accept a check in that amount to pass on to Barcelona, accusing PSG — which presumably will compensate the player’s representatives for the payment — of violating UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules.
In a lengthy Instagram post, Neymar explained his decision, saying he had been honored to play alongside Argentine superstar striker Lionel Messi and his other Barcelona teammates but that an athlete needs new challenges.
“I had the honour of playing alongside the greatest athlete I’ve seen in my life, and I’m sure I won’t see another who’s better. @leomessi became my teammate, my friend both on and off the field. I was proud to play with you. I formed an attacking (trio) with (Messi) and (Uruguayan star Luis Suarez) that will go down in history.”
“I’ve conquered everything an athlete can conquer … but an athlete (I) need challenges,” he said.