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06 Dec 2021, Edition - 2337, Monday

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Neymar: Paris St-Germain’s new signing said he left Barcelona for a new challenge



Brazil forward Neymar said he needed a new challenge, as he joined Paris St-Germain from Barcelona for a world record fee of 222m euros (£200m).

The 25-year-old won seven major trophies in his four seasons at the Nou Camp, including the Champions League once and La Liga twice.

He said his father, Neymar Sr, wanted him to stay at Barcelona.

“I have won all that a player can win,” said Neymar, who will earn 45m euros (£40.7m) a year on a five-year deal.

Writing on Instagram, he added: “I have conquered everything an athlete can conquer. I have lived unforgettable moments. But a player [me] needs challenges.

“And for the second time in my life, I’ll contradict my father.”

Neymar’s transfer smashes the previous record set when Paul Pogba returned to Manchester United from Juventus for £89m in August 2016.

His £782,000-a-week wages mean PSG’s total outlay is £400m.

The French side have called a news conference for 12:30 BST on Friday, and Neymar will be introduced to fans at PSG’s first game of the season against Amiens at Parc des Princes on Saturday.

PSG reached the last eight of the Champions League last season – knocked out by a Neymar-inspired Barcelona – and were beaten to the French title by Monaco.

Neymar said he has joined “one of the most ambitious clubs in Europe”.

“Paris St-Germain’s ambition attracted me to the club, along with the passion and the energy this brings,” he added.

“I feel ready to take the challenge. I will do everything I can to help my new team-mates.”

A late snag?

After weeks of speculation, Neymar arrived at Barcelona’s training ground on Wednesday with his father and representative, and told the Spanish club he wanted to leave.

He was then given permission by Barca manager Ernesto Valverde to leave to “sort out his future”.

In Spain, a release clause can only be activated by a player buying himself out of his contract.

But when Neymar’s lawyers attempted to make the deposit on Thursday, La Liga officials rejected the payment. Further statements followed from all sides as the negotiations continued.

La Liga believes PSG are violating Uefa’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules and Barcelona previously said they would report PSG to European football’s governing body Uefa for an FFP breach.

PSG believes La Liga was acting unlawfully, while the French league (LFP) said it was “surprised” and urged its Spanish counterpart to “abide by the Fifa rules”.

Unable to get La Liga to take the payment, Neymar’s representatives paid the 222m euros (£200m) at Barca’s offices instead.

So FFP… who is right?

FFP rules, first implemented during the 2011-12 season, stipulate European clubs cannot outspend what they earn by more than 30m euros.

PSG are backed by money from Gulf state Qatar, and La Liga president Javier Tebas has accused the French club of “financial doping”.

It is the first time PSG – ranked the 11th most valuable club in the world by Forbes – have broken the global transfer record, with Real Madrid paying five of the past six highest fees.

Stepping out of Messi’s shadow?

Neymar’s departure from Barcelona breaks up the feted attacking trident he formed with Argentina captain Lionel Messi and Uruguay forward Luis Suarez.

On Wednesday, Messi posted on Instagram: “It was a great pleasure to have shared all these years with you my friend Neymar. I wish you good luck in this new stage of your life.” Neymar replied: “Thank you brother. I will miss you.”

Then, after completing the move, the Brazilian posted his own message, calling the Argentine “the best athlete I’ve ever seen in my life”.

“Lionel Messi became my team-mate, and my friend on and off the pitch,” he wrote. “I am proud to have played with you. We formed an attack with Luis Suarez that will endure forever.

“I achieved everything a sportsperson can achieve. I played with these guys in video games. I lived unforgettable moments in a city that is more than a city – it’s a homeland.

“Barcelona and Catalonia will always be in my heart but I need a new challenge. PSG offered a bold new way forward and I’m ready. Right now I feel in my heart that it’s time to go.”

Since joining Barca in 2013, Neymar scored 68 goals in four full seasons – behind Cristiano Ronaldo (139), Messi (134), Luis Suarez (85), Antoine Griezmann (76) and Athletic Bilbao’s Aritz Aduriz (70)
In that same period, he had the fifth most direct assists with 38 – again behind Messi (54), Atletico Madrid’s Koke (45), Suarez (43) and Ronaldo (42)
In chances created in that time (287), he was second only to team-mate Messi (326)
He had the highest number of chances created last season (91) – more than any other PSG player (Angel di Maria had 78)
Edinson Cavani scored almost three times as many league goals (35) than Neymar (13) last season

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