Neymar: Happiness of my family came before money in PSG move
Most expensive player in the world insists that money was not his motivation in joining PSG
Neymar has dismissed suggestions that his world-record €222 million move to join Paris Saint-Germain was motivated by money and instead insisted he had moved to the French capital for “a new challenge”.
A little more than 12 hours after his transfer from Barcelona was confirmed, the Brazilian was introduced as a PSG player in front of the world’s media at the Parc des Princes just after lunch on day. Waiting for a glimpse of their new hero, hundreds of PSG fans had thronged the streets outside the stadium throughout the morning. When Neymar finally appeared, a few young boys, posted on their father’s shoulders, even cried at the sight of the 25-year-old.
“I wanted something bigger, a bigger challenge. This was about ambition,” he told the assembled journalists.
“My heart told me that it was time to sign for Paris Saint-Germain. It was the right time to leave Barcelona. I was never motivated by money. I thought above all else about the happiness of my family, regardless of money. I’m really sad that some people think this is the case.”
When asked how he felt about becoming the most valuable player of all time, surpassing Paul Pogba following his £89 million (€98m) move to Manchester United last summer, Neymar even found time for a joke: “It’s not an extra burden. I weigh 69kg, and I’ll remain at 69kg.”
Nasser al-Khelaifi, the PSG owner, then took him on a tour of the club’s home stadium, where PSG will take on newly-promoted Amiens on Saturday in the first match of the new Ligue 1. Despite yet having to train with his new team-mates, Neymar has not ruled out playing some part.
The occasion was certainly a triumph for Al-Khelaifi, whose company Qatar Sports Investments bought a majority share in PSG six years ago.
“For me Neymar is the best player in the world, so we wanted to have the best player in the world,” he said. “Neymar came here to write new pages in the history of Paris Saint-Germain. With him our project will grow even stronger. The league will become more interesting for everyone. More transfers? The best player in the world is here. Let’s enjoy Neymar.”
The supporters outside did not take much persuading.
“This is the best day of my life,” said Sébastien, a PSG season ticket holder for 20 years. “I cannot believe a player of Neymar’s calibre is playing for my team. It is a dream come true for all the PSG fans and for French football in general as well. He is bigger than anything we have seen before in France.”
By lunchtime, the club’s official club shop on the Champs-Élysées had reported record sales figures, with reports that Neymar’s replica number 10 shirt was being sold for £140 (€155).
The transfer has not been so well received by everyone, however. An hour before he was due to appear, international players’ association Fifpro released a statement demanding an investigation into “anti-competitive, unjustified and illegal” Fifa transfer rules.
“Fifpro is calling on the European Commission to investigate the flow of money via transfer fees within the EU territory to understand their impact on competitive balance in the region.” – (Guardian service)