It’s official: Brazilian football star Neymar is leaving FC Barcelona for Qatar-backed Paris St. Germain (PSG).
The 25-year-old signed a five-year deal through June 2022 with the French club yesterday.
Before doing so, his lawyers paid a buyout clause fee of €222 million (QR966 million) to his former team.
That makes the deal the most expensive transfer in football history.
Signing Neymar is being seen as a big win for Qatar, which is embroiled in a months-long dispute with its neighbors.
Speaking to the Associated Press, Gulf expert Christopher Davidson said:
“This signing can demonstrate that Qatar is still viable, still able to have international influence and still able to be serious player in international soccer.”
But the transfer isn’t without obstacles. There are concerns that PSG is over-stepping UEFA rules about spending more than it earns.
The organization, which governs European football, will be looking into the financial implications in the coming years.
But in the meantime, Neymar and PSG said they are just focusing on the game of football and winning tournaments.
In a statement, PSG President Nasser Al-Khelaifi said:
“It is with immense joy and pride that we welcome Neymar Jr. to Paris Saint-Germain. Neymar Jr. is today one of the very best players in world football. His winning mentality, strength of character and sense of leadership have made him into a great player. He will bring a very positive energy to this club.”
And in his farewell speech to Barca fans this week, Neymar explained that it was time to move on and seek “new challenges.”
According to ESPN, he said:
“I accepted PSG’s proposition to try new achievements and help the club to win the titles that their crowd wants. They showed me a daring career plan and I feel ready to take on this challenge.”