Photographers in Spain caught Neymar driving into Barcelona’s training facility on Wednesday, and he was expected to practice with the team that has employed him since 2013. But then the team announced he would not be practicing, and in fact was there simply to say goodbye to his teammates ahead of his expected transfer to Paris Saint-Germain.
“The player Neymar Jr, accompanied by his father and agent, has informed FC Barcelona this morning of his decision to leave the Club in a meeting held at the Club’s offices,” the team said in a statement.
Lionel Messi, Neymar’s apparently soon-to-be-former teammate, sent out his own goodbye on Instagram.
“It was a great pleasure to have shared all these years with you, friend @neymarjr,” Messi wrote, tagging Neymar’s Instagram handle. “I wish you good luck in this new stage of your life.”
Wagner Ribeiro, Neymar’s former agent who still works for his father’s company, told ESPNFC that he was in Paris working on the forward’s deal with the French club. He tweeted out a photo of the Eiffel Tower on Wednesday morning along with, “Marvelous Paris, of the Eiffel Tower, of wine, of gastronomy and of FOOTBALL.”
Paris maravilhosa , da Torre Eifel, do vinho, da gastronomia e do FUTEBOL. pic.twitter.com/iuWuRM6moW
— Wagner Ribeiro (@wagneribeiro_) August 2, 2017
Neymar reportedly has agreed to a contract with PSG that would pay him in the neighborhood of $35.5 million annually after taxes. PSG would have to pay the $260 million buyout clause in Neymar’s Barcelona contract, which would dwarf the previous record of $124 million paid by Manchester United to acquire Paul Pogba last summer from Juventus. But La Liga President Javier Tebas said he will file a complaint with UEFA (European soccer’s governing body) and the European Union, alleging that PSG’s payment of such a massive transfer fee would violate UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules, which prohibit clubs from spending more than they earn.
Tebas questioned whether PSG’s Qatari owners could pay the transfer fee without incurring debts that would run afoul of Financial Fair Play rules.
“The complaint is ready and will be presented to UEFA, the European Union and the Swiss courts,” he told ESPNFC. “Basically, the complaint will be over unfair competition and against teams that receive financial injections from owners that ‘gift’ players to their fans by taking them away from others. PSG are a clear example of ‘financial doping’ by club/state.
“PSG’s accounts reflect that they have more commercial income than Real Madrid or Manchester United, which is to say that their brand value is bigger than these two clubs. Well, that is impossible.”
PSG, in turn, has said the Neymar signing would be in compliance with Financial Fair Play rules because it would sell off some of the club’s other players — for instance Ángel Di María, Serge Aurier and/or Blaise Matuidi, all of who could fetch sizable transfer fees — upon his arrival.
L’Equipe reported Tuesday that Neymar’s PSG physical — one of the last steps before the transfer can officially happen — could take place late this week or on Monday.