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Neymar‘s PSG days are over as the Brazilian has officially joined Al-Hilal, giving the Saudi Arabian giants the superstar name that they’ve been chasing all summer long and freeing the french club from a player who they had been desperate to part ways with for several years.
The flamboyant Brazilian attacker, whose $263 million move from Barcelona to PSG in the summer of 2017 remains the most expensive transfer in football history, moves to the Saudi Pro League on a two-year contract. The package in its entirety is comparable to the €200 million a year that Cristiano Ronaldo earns at Riyadh rivals Al-Nassr. Additionally PSG will receive a fee said to be worth €90 million, a significant upswing on the €45 million Al-Hilal had initially hoped would be enough to seal the deal.
Securing Neymar brings to an end Al-Hilal’s summer-long pursuit of one of the game’s biggest names, a transfer saga that has taken them through all three of PSG’s marquee attackers from last season. Lionel Messi had long been the number one target of the Saudi Pro League in its entirety, after he chose Inter Miami in an attempt to persuade Neymar that he should make the move to the kingdom. Lines of communication remained open between player and suitor though Al-Hilal’s interest briefly cooled when they offered €1 billion for what would have amounted to a season-long rental of Kylian Mbappe.
Neymar was keen to explore what moves might be available to him in Europe, where he was long linked with a move back to Barcelona, but there has so far been no indication that one of the continent’s top sides would be prepared to take him on his sizeable wages. Chelsea were also reported to be a potential suitor but there has been no serious indication of interest from Stamford Bridge. The 31 year old has had a checkered record with injuries over recent years and has only once made more than 30 appearances in all competitions for PSG.
There will be some sense of relief at the Parc des Princes that Neymar is departing two years before the expiry of a contract that appeared to be hanging like a millstone on the club hierarchy. Considering the occasionally frosty relations between the world’s most expensive player and PSG’s best, Kylian Mbappe, Neymar’s departure might well be worth even more than the €90 million if it can convince Mbappe to sign a new contract in Paris.
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The Brazilian is the latest and arguably highest-profile addition to the Saudi Pro League after a summer of ambitious spending that has seen the likes of Karim Benzema, N’Golo Kante and Roberto Firmino arrive in the country. Neymar would team up with new signings Kalidou Koulibaly, Ruben Neves and Malcom at Jorge Jesus’ side.
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