Paris Saint-Germain introduced Neymar, its very expensive new soccer acquisition, on Friday in Paris. There was much rejoicing.
The 25-year-old Brazilian sensation, acquired after PSG paid Barcelona a record-breaking $263 million transfer fee, said he wasn’t motivated by any desire for riches, which he already had as one of the top players in the world.
“I was never motivated by money,” he told the gathered reporters, including the AP’s Rob Harris. “What I think about is happiness. If I was following the money I would maybe be in some other country.”
Instead, it was all about making PSG an elite European soccer team.
“I want to write history here. This is the only reason,” Neymar said. “There are new challenges, and I want to help write the history of the club. Our biggest challenge is the Champions League, but there are other trophies too.”
PSG recently has been entrenched atop France’s Ligue 1, earning top honors in four straight seasons from 2012 to 2016 before getting bumped down to second place by Monaco last season. It also is the three-time defending Coupe de France winner. But the real glory in European soccer these days — competitive, financial, all of it — lies in the Champions League, and PSG has not shown the ability to get over the hump: It qualified for the past five versions of European club soccer’s premier tournament but hasn’t gotten past the quarterfinals, earlier this year faltering in the Round of 16 after an improbable second-leg loss to Barcelona, featuring Neymar. PSG took the first leg, 4-0, but fell 6-1 in the rematch — with two goals coming after the 90th minute — for a 6-5 aggregate-goals defeat.
Club President Nasser Al-Khelaifi said he estimates that PSG added $500 million to the value of the franchise simply by signing Neymar, and that he expects that number to double from the $1.5 billion where it currently stands. The team is on a good pace already: Harris talked with a PSG fan who showed him a receipt for the four Neymar jerseys he already has purchased, at a cost of $740.
“This is a very big moment for PSG,” Philippe Chembon, the fan in question, told Harris.
Anyway, here are some videos of Neymar doing soccer-like things while wearing a PSG uniform at the Parc de Princes.
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