MADRID: Neymar’s record-breaking €222 million transfer from Barcelona to Paris St Germain (PSG) is set to be completed this week with the French club poised to pay his release clause.
Neymar’s agent Wagner Ribeiro was quoted on Spanish radio as saying PSG would pay the fee specified in the player’s Barcelona contract and his client was en route to finalise the deal.
The fee is more than twice the current transfer world record that was set when Paul Pogba moved last year from Italian giants Juventus to Manchester United for €105 million.
“They [PSG] are going to pay Neymar’s [buyout] clause today so that he can be presented at the weekend,” Ribeiro told Spanish radio station Cadena COPE. “They [Neymar and his father] are in the air now.”
The overall package will become the most expensive investment ever in a player with several media outlets reporting that Neymar is expected to sign a five-year contract worth more than €550,000 a week.
A completed deal could set off a chain reaction of signings before the transfer window closes at the end of the month with Barcelona having plenty of money to commit to a replacement.
The striker only arrived back in Spain on Tuesday after trips to China and the Middle East and the move would complete a hectic few days in which Neymar’s heavily trailed exit has inched closer.
Events moved swiftly on Wednesday when Barcelona released a statement announcing that the 25-year-old had informed them of his intention to leave, and confirming the amount of his buy-out clause.
“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,” said Barcelona in a statement. “The club refers to the buy-out clause of his existing contract which as of 1 July totals €222 million.”
Earlier, Neymar arrived at the club’s training ground to tell team mates he was moving to Paris, Catalan radio RAC1 reported.
The Brazilian striker left the training area minutes later, it said, with the club confirming on Twitter that he had been given permission not to train.
Neymar’s departure would end a four-year stay at the club, where he formed a formidable strike force with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.
Messi reacted to his team mate’s imminent move by posting on his Instagram account: “It was a great pleasure to have shared all these years with you, my friend @naymarjr. I wish you much luck in this new stage of your life. Be seeing you.”
In October last year, Neymar signed a new contract until 2021 with the buy-out clause raised.
For a while it seemed that the deal might stall over concerns about Financial Fair Play.
In an interview published on Wednesday, the president of the Spanish La Liga Javier Tebas, said the league would not accept payment by PSG to trigger the release clause.
It would potentially be in breach of UEFA Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules, he told Spanish sports newspaper AS.
Under the fair play rules, a club’s wage bill must not exceed 70% of its revenue.
UEFA’s FFP project leader Andrea Traverso was last week quoted by Italian newspaper Gazetta dello Sport as saying PSG were currently following the rules.
UEFA told Reuters on Wednesday that no complaint had been received about PSG, adding that European football’s governing body would not block any potential deal in advance.
“UEFA will look into the details of this transfer in due course to ensure PSG are compliant with FFP requirements,” said the UEFA statement. “The transfer of Neymar to PSG will have an effect on the club finances over several years but the impact of such an operation cannot be judged in advance, notably as PSG could well sell several players for a significant amount. We shall therefore only make calculations at the end and make sure that they respect the rules.”
PSG are one of the world’s richest clubs following their 2012 takeover by Qatar Sports Investments, an arm of Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund, which has transformed their fortunes.
PSG’s 2015/16 revenue came to €521 million, according to Deloitte’s Football Money League report issued in January.
Neymar signed for Barcelona from Brazilian side Santos for €57.1 million in 2013, although it was later revealed the cost was closer to €100 million.