News ID: 197929
Published: 0144 GMT August 04, 2017

Neymar on £198m move: I wanted something bigger

Neymar on £198m move: I wanted something bigger
Neymar (R) and PSG chairman Nasser al-Khelaifi answered questions in the Brazilian’s first press conference as a PSG player in Paris on August 4, 2017.

Neymar held his first press conference as a Paris Saint-Germain player following his £198 million move from Barcelona, explaining that he was seeking a "bigger challenge."

The Brazil international ended his four-year stay at Barcelona on Thursday when his €222 million release clause was paid in full, with Neymar signing a five-year deal in Paris to become the most expensive player of all time, Eurosport reported.

His motivation for the move away from Barcelona, breaking up a productive union with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, has been the subject of much speculation, with a salary of a reported £520,000 after tax being highlighted.

But Neymar said in a packed press conference that money was not his motivation. Neither was a much-reported desire to step out of Messi's shadow and become the leading star at a club.

Instead, the 25-year-old said that he wanted a bigger challenge than playing for Barcelona could offer.

He said, “I wanted something bigger, a bigger challenge. My heart made the decision and made me follow that ambition and that is why I am here today. I want to dream bigger, to do my best and to do even better."

"No (being the big star) didn’t impact at all. I wanted to come to Paris and it is only linked to me wanting to find a new challenge. Not because I didn’t feel I was the big star at Barcelona. No, I felt well in Barcelona. That is not what I am looking for in Paris. I think that I have written my chapter at Barcelona, I won some trophies.... Of course you can't make everybody happy.

"I've done nothing bad. It's difficult to answer this question. I'm sad about the facts that the fans think (badly of him), I hope it's only a minority. I never lacked respect to the fans and I think that every player should be allowed to stay or leave a club.

"If I was following the money, I'd be playing for a different team in another country. I was never motivated by money, it has never been my first motivation. I am really sad people think I am motivated by money."


'One of the most difficult decisions'


Neymar said it was a difficult decision to leave his friends and colleagues behind in Barcelona, who were disappointed to lose the player commonly seen as Messi's heir at Camp Nou.

“It was one of the most difficult decisions I've ever taken... I had to think, rethink and think again about what I want to do with my life I leave a lot of very good friends behind. I would like to thank all my friends at Barcelona, they welcomed me so well. But I felt it was the right time."


‘I don't think it's expensive’


Paris Saint-Germain chairman Nasser al-Khelaifi was also on stage alongside Neymar and said that PSG felt the transfer fee paid for the Brazilian was far from excessive.

“I don’t think it is expensive, I'm sure we are going to make more money. I can guarantee that Neymar did not come for the money. He could get much more money elsewhere than here. The world is going to talk about this transfer for long time. Hopefully positively, he didn't come here for money. Today it is the most expensive, but in two-three years will it be? I'm sure we will make more money than we have paid. We huge been very transparent from one day on Financial Fair Play. We are working under the regulations. For people worrying about Financial Fair Play, go have coffee, there are no problems."

Al-Khelaifi also denied that the pursuit of Neymar was revenge for Barcelona's interest in Marco Verratti, as has been suggested, and hailed the signing of the best player of the world as a key moment for PSG as they target the Champions League along with domestic success.

“Neymar is an idol for the whole world and those who love football and sports. As far as I am concerned Neymar is the best player in the world. Our supporters have always dreamed about Neymar and here he is today with us. With him our project becomes stronger. Together we are going to create an amazing PSG."


'I'm ready to play'


Neymar is eligible to play in PSG's season opener against Amiens today at Parc des Princes and said he was available for coach Unai Emery.

“I am really hungry for football. Yes I am ready, if I can play tomorrow, why not? I will speak with the staff and wait for the green light, but this is what I love to do. Play football."

Neymar operated on the left of Barcelona's front three during his time at Camp Nou but said he had not discussed his role with Emery yet, with Edinson Cavani installed as PSG's central striker at present. "I don't know," he said. "I haven't discussed it with the coach yet. I just want to play."


A late snag?


In Spain, a release clause can only be activated by a player buying himself out of his contract.

But when Neymar's lawyers attempted to make the deposit on Thursday, La Liga officials rejected the payment. Further statements followed from all sides as the negotiations continued, BBC reported.

La Liga believes PSG is violating UEFA's Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules and Barcelona previously said the club would report PSG to European football's governing body UEFA for an FFP breach.

PSG believes La Liga was acting unlawfully, while the French league (LFP) said it was "surprised" and urged its Spanish counterpart to "abide by the FIFA rules".

Unable to get La Liga to take the payment, Neymar's representatives paid the €222 million (£200 million) at Barca's offices instead.


So FFP... who is right?


FFP rules, first implemented during the 2011-12 season, stipulate European clubs cannot outspend what they earn by more than €30 million.

PSG is backed by money from Gulf state Qatar, and La Liga president Javier Tebas has accused the French club of "financial doping".

It is the first time PSG – ranked the 11th most valuable club in the world by Forbes – has broken the global transfer record, with Real Madrid paying five of the past six highest fees.


Neymar in numbers


·       Since joining Barca in 2013, Neymar scored 68 goals in four full seasons – behind Cristiano Ronaldo (139), Messi (134), Luis Suarez (85), Antoine Griezmann (76) and Athletic Bilbao's Aritz Aduriz (70).

·       In that same period, he had the fifth most direct assists with 38 – again behind Messi (54), Atletico Madrid's Koke (45), Suarez (43) and Ronaldo (42).

·       In chances created in that time (287), he was second only to teammate Messi (326).

·       He had the highest number of chances created last season (91) – more than any other PSG player (Angel di Maria had 78).

·       Edinson Cavani scored almost three times as many league goals (35) than Neymar (13) last season.


History of the world transfer record


In 1975, Italian Giuseppe Savoldi became football's first £1 million player with his move from Bologna to Napoli. And Britain followed suit four years later, when Nottingham Forest paid Birmingham City £1.2 million for England forward Trevor Francis.

Only two players have broken the transfer record twice: Argentina legend Diego Maradona and Brazil great Ronaldo.

Maradona moved from Boca Juniors to Barcelona for £3 million in 1982, before joining Napoli two years later for £5 million. Ronaldo joined Barcelona for £13.2 million in 1996, but left after just one season to join Inter for £19.5 million.

Brazil winger Denilson (£21.5 million), Italy striker Christian Vieri (£32 million), Argentina forward Hernan Crespo (£35.5 million), Portugal winger Luis Figo (£37 million) and France playmaker Zinedine Zidane (£46 million) all raised the bar over the next three years.

Brazil midfielder Kaka (£56 million) breached the £50 million barrier in 2009 before his new club Real Madrid broke the record again by signing Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester United for £80 million three weeks later.

The Bernabeu club beat its own record again with the £85 million deal with Tottenham for Wales forward Gareth Bale in 2013 – before Manchester United paid £89 million for France midfielder Paul Pogba last summer.


‘The problem is the consequences’


Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho said, "Expensive are the ones who get into a certain level without a certain quality. For £200 million, I don't think [Neymar] is expensive.

"I think he's expensive in the fact that now you are going to have more players at £100 million, you are going have more players at £80 million and more players at £60 million. And I think that's the problem.

"So I think the problem is not Neymar, I think the problem is the consequences of Neymar."

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp also commented on Neymar’s PSG move as saying, "I thought Fair Play was made so that situations like that can't happen. That's more of a suggestion than a real rule."

Lille director general Marc Ingla, a former Barcelona vice president said, "It's a blow for Barcelona. Neymar is an accelerator to this bright future of Ligue 1. The young talent pool we have here is the best in Europe. For sure we can still compete with PSG. Once you get on the pitch it's 11 vs. 11 and all the transfer fees and salaries narrow a bit."

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