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May 20, 2024

Neymar leaves PSG to become latest star to join Saudi football league

Brazil’s Neymar is transferring from Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) to Al-Hilal, the player and Saudi club announced on Tuesday.

“I am here in Saudi Arabia. I am in Hilal,” Neymar announced in a short video clip released by Al-Hilal.

PSG also confirmed the move, calling Neymar a “club legend.”

Neymar signed a contract for two seasons with the option to extend for another season, Al-Hilal announced in the evening.

The signing took place at the Four Seasons George V hotel in Paris.

PSG is reported to have received 90 million euros (98.25 million dollars) for the transfer, according to Saudi Arabia-funded news channel Al-Arabiya.

The channel further reported that Neymar’s income would be 100 million euros.

The Brazilian could make his first appearance for his new club on Saturday in the scheduled match against Al-Fayha.

The announcement is the latest in a string of transfers to Saudi Arabian teams, along with stars Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, Sadio Mané and others.

The swaps into the Saudi Pro League have had a major impact on the transfer market this year, raking in hundreds of millions.

Neymar had not joined serial winners PSG in their disappointing 0-0 start to the season against FC Lorient.

The Brazilian, who is known just as Neymar, had moved to the Parisian team from FC Barcelona in 2017 for a record sum of 222 million euros.

However, the footballer was never really happy at PSG.

He missed out on the UEFA Champions League victory he had hoped for with the club, and fans were not happy with him.

In early May, dozens of supporters had gathered outside Neymar’s luxury mansion, shouting “Neymar out!”

The British newspaper The Independent reported on Monday that Neymar had actually wanted to continue his career in Europe.

All the top European teams — Manchester United, Real Madrid, Chelsea, Manchester City and FC Bayern Munich —- had offered the 31-year-old a spot on their team.

But Neymar’s price was too steep for them all.

Only FC Barcelona committed to paying the transfer fee and salary, but Neymar decided not to return.

At PSG, Neymar was no longer wanted.

Coach Luis Enrique and sports director Luis Campos want a fresh start —- without the Argentine world champion Lionel Messi, who has moved to a U.S. team, and without Neymar.

It is still unclear whether the team’s third world star, Kylian Mbappé, will also leave the club.

Al-Hilal is said to have offered the 2022 FIFA World Cup top goal scorer a whopping 300 million euros, which the 24-year-old refused.

Neymar, on the other hand, was swayed by the club’s hefty sums.

Just like Ronaldo, who was the first star player to move to the desert state late last year, Neymar is now setting his sights on the Saudi league.

But it is a league which is still relatively insignificant in sports terms.

Neymar joins a long list of stars who have also been tempted by Saudi Arabia’s enormous salaries.

These include former Bayern Munich forward Sadio Mané, Real Madrid’s ex-goalscorer Benzema and Liverpool’s long-time captain Jordan Henderson, to name a few.

German coach Matthias Jaissle also signed a contract with Al-Ahli.

Critics see the country’s massive investment in professional football and other sports as an attempt at bettering its image through top-level sports.

Saudi Arabia has been largely slammed by the international community for its human rights record.(dpa/NAN)

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