Neymar steals the show in Paris despite missing PSG opener
World record transfer had to sit out opening League 1 encounter due to registration delay
Paris Saint-Germain’s Brazilian forward Neymar reacts during the League 1 match against Amiens at the Parc de Princes in Paris. Photograph: Alain Jocard/AFP/Getty Images
Delirious Paris St Germain fans got their first glimpse of world-record signing Neymar on Saturday although he was restricted to some pre-match ball juggling after being forced to sit out the Ligue 1 opener.
The Brazilian, whose €222 million signing from Barcelona doubled the world-record transfer fee, was prevented from making his debut against Amiens as his registration had gone through too late.
The issue failed to spoil the party mood in the Parc des Princes however, with Neymar’s appearance for a presentation before kick-off prompting huge cheers from the crowd.
Fireworks greeted Neymar’s appearance from the tunnel an hour ahead of the scheduled kick-off before he stood on a podium to address the crowd who chanted his name.
“Merci,” Neymar said, before adding via an interpreter that “my intention is to win many trophies with you.”
Neymar, who was joined by PSG’s chief executive Nasser Al-Khelaifi, then paraded around the pitch, showing his ball-juggling skills and ending up bare-chested after throwing his shirt into the crowd.
Neymar, 25, joined on a five-year contract from Barcelona on Thursday after PSG met the cost of the buyout clause in his contract. PSG believe he will help them challenge for this year’s Champions League title.
He joins fellow Brazilian and former Barcelona team-mate Dani Alves in the French capital after he joined from Juventus.
Neymar had said at a media presentation on Friday that he hoped to take part in PSG’s opening league match, although PSG did not need him, winning 2-0 thanks to goals from Edinson Cavani and Javier Pastore, two of the other South Americans at the club .
PSG, runners-up to Monaco last season after four successive titles, failed to meet a midnight deadline for a transfer certificate to be submitted to France’s professional football league, the LFP, from Spain’s football authorities, an LFP spokeswoman said on Saturday.
Saturday’s ceremony fuelled a marketing blitz by PSG, who on Friday sold 10,000 replica shirts printed with Neymar’s name and registered €500,000 in merchandise sales, according to news channel BFM TV.
Al-Khelaifi told reporters on Friday that the value of the club had risen by half a billion dollars since the signing of Neymar who will earn a salary of €45 million.
The excitement of the Brazilian star’s arrival in Paris has spread to supporters of other clubs.
Tickets for PSG’s first away match, at Guingamp next weekend, have already sold out and fans in Brittany may be rewarded by seeing Neymar make his debut for PSG.
Neymar’s arrival has raised hopes in France that Ligue 1’s profile will be boosted, although PSG’s Qatari owners have also drawn criticism for potentially undermining Financial Fair Play rules covering European clubs.