Neymar to PSG: Brazilian star striker prepares for 'bigger challenge' in Ligue 1 after leaving Barcelona

Paris: Neymar was unveiled as a Paris Saint-Germain player on Friday following his sensational world record transfer saying he had left Barcelona not for money but a "bigger challenge" in France.

The 25-year-old Brazilian superstar flew into Le Bourget airport, north-east of Paris, in a private jet on Friday morning before heading into the city in a motorcade.

He was presented to the international media at PSG's Parc des Princes stadium just after 1:30pm (11:30 GMT) in his first public appearance since buying out his contract at Barcelona for a world-record €222 million ($264 million) on Thursday.

Neymar with Dani Alves (L) and Luca Moura at a training session. Image Courtesy: Twitter/@PSG_English

Neymar with Dani Alves (L) and Luca Moura at a training session. Image Courtesy: Twitter/@PSG_English

"I want something bigger, a greater challenge. I am here to give my best and help the club win titles," said Neymar, who has signed a five-year contract with the Qatar-owned club expected to be worth €30 million net per year.

He insisted he had come to France "for the ambition of the club, which is very similar to mine."

But 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. I had friends there and it has not been easy," he said.


"It was a tense time, thinking about what I should do in my life. I have left behind a lot of friends, but things go very fast in football."

Neymar will be presented to the PSG support on Saturday prior to his new team's first game of the Ligue 1 season against promoted Amiens.

A ceremony will begin from 3:45pm (13:45 GMT) with the kick-off put back quarter of an hour to 5:15pm to allow extra time for the player's unveiling before an expected sell-out crowd of more than 45,000.

Neymar got a taste of what is to come when he stepped outside the Parc des Princes on Friday in his new team's kit, to be greeted by hundreds of ecstatic supporters.

However, Neymar, whose last game for Barcelona was in a friendly against bitter rivals Real Madrid last weekend in Miami, will not be able to make his debut against Amiens.

'His value will double'


A French league spokesman said that the Brazilian's international transfer certificate (CIT) had failed to be lodged by the midnight deadline on Friday so he will watch the game from the stands instead.

At €30 million a year, Neymar will be the second highest-paid player in the world — behind Carlos Tevez and his €38 million a year at Shanghai Shenhua in China but ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo's 23.6 million euros annual salary at Real Madrid.

The transfer fee shatters the previous world record of €105 million set by Manchester United in signing France midfielder Paul Pogba last year from Juventus.

It is an eye-watering sum, but one that PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi insisted will eventually look like a bargain for the player who came third in the Ballon d'Or in 2015 behind Messi and Ronaldo.

"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 the double," said Al-Khelaifi.

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 the impact of Neymar's arrival could be seen early on Friday morning on the Champs Elysees in Paris, where more than 1,000 fans queued outside a club superstore in order to get their hands on a PSG shirt with Neymar's name and number on the back.

And on the field PSG are hoping Neymar, who will wear the number 10 shirt vacated a year ago by Zlatan Ibrahimovic, can help them win back the Ligue 1 title lost to Monaco last season, and also finally get their hands on the Champions League trophy.

Meanwhile, there was still bitterness in Spain over the player's exit with Barcelona insisting they won't pay a €26 million ($30.8 million) bonus to Neymar for renewing his contract with the Catalan giants in 2016.


Published Date: Aug 05, 2017 08:53 am | Updated Date: Aug 05, 2017 09:08 am



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