Neymar has agreed to join Paris Saint-Germain in football’s first half billion Euro transfer deal. The proposed move is expected to require PSG to meet the €222million release clause in Neymar’s Barcelona contract in full.
The Qatar-owned club have already promised to hand Neymar a salary package worth over €30m a year after-tax, elevating the total financial commitment to well over €500m across a five-season deal – and placing the Brazil international’s earnings on a par with Lionel Messi’s recently agreed record wage at Barca.
Manchester City and Manchester United have also held discussions with Neymar about extracting him from the Camp Nou this summer. According to sources familiar with the negotiations, City remain interested in securing the 25-year-old’s signature but want to bring the transfer fee down below the value of his release clause.
Neymar welcomed United’s interest earlier this year, telling Jose Mourinho that he would commit himself to joining the Old Trafford manager’s close-season rebuild if the Premier League club were able to buy him out of his contract at Barcelona. The sums involved in such a deal, however, have proved beyond United’s transfer budget.
All three clubs have been encouraged in their pursuit by the player, who is dissatisfied with his status at Barcelona, and was further irked by the Catalan club’s recent decision to award Messi a massively improved salary of €62m gross. It is understood that Neymar asked for similar terms during negotiations over a new contact last year, but was told that Barca could not afford to pay such a sum to anyone.
With a long-held ambition of establishing himself as the world’s best footballer, Neymar is eager to move to a club prepared to make him the tactical centre point of a first team focused on winning the Champions League. In doing so, Neymar believes he can not only emerge from Messi’s shadow at Barcelona, but better both the Argentine and Cristiano Ronaldo in the voting for football’s top individual honours.
PSG have focused their own substantial resources on securing a first Champions League title. The club was embarrassed by ceding a 4-0 first-leg advantage to Barcelona in last season’s first knock-out round, during a campaign in which PSG also handed over the French title to AS Monaco.
Qatar’s response has been to hire a new technical director, FC Porto’s Antero Henrique, and authorise him to spend €220m on transfer fees, plus whatever sums can be raised from player sales. Last week, PSG gazumped City’s agreement to sign Dani Alves by offering one of Pep Guardiola’s key targets a 60 per cent rise on the already lucrative terms on offer in England.
Barcelona’s official position on Neymar is that they have no interest in allowing the Brazilian to leave. “Selling Neymar is not something the club would think about,” said club lawyer Josep Vives. “We are very calm. He is one of the most important players we have, we will not consider any offers we receive for him.”
The sum on offer for a player Barca’s own pay structure denotes as second-tier will not, however, be ignored. Club finances are tight and it is under pressure to aggressively restructure a squad that lost the Spanish title to Real Madrid last season, while exiting the Champions League at the quarter-final stage.
For those reasons, it may suit Barca to make a public show of wishing to keep Neymar in Catalonia, while ultimately accepting an unprecedented transfer fee for him. PSG are due to meet Barcelona officials this week to discuss the transfer.