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Sunday 20 August 2017

Neymar: I'm here for trophies, not money

Neymar: Record switch. Photo: Getty Images
Neymar: Record switch. Photo: Getty Images

The world's most expensive footballer Neymar insists it was ambition and not the lure of riches that convinced him to swap Barcelona for Paris St Germain.

Brazil forward Neymar, 25, has signed a five-year deal with ambitious Ligue 1 club PSG after his legal representatives paid Barca €222m (£200m) to release him from his contract at the Nou Camp.

Neymar, who won the Champions League and two La Liga titles with Barca, will reportedly earn €30m net per year at PSG, or close to €600,000 a week after tax.

But the man hailed as "the best player in the world" by PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi yesterday stressed that his desire to help the French team achieve their dream of European glory was his guiding influence.

He said: "I wanted a new challenge. This was about ambition. My heart told me that it was time to sign for Paris St Germain. It was the right time to leave Barcelona and find new challenges.

"I was never motivated by money. I thought above all else about of the happiness of my family, regardless of money. I regret that some people think this is the case."

Among the challenges he has signed up for will be PSG's quest to reclaim the Ligue 1 title from Monaco.

That mission starts at home to newly-promoted Amiens today and Neymar is keen to get started.

"I'm ready," he said. "This is what I love to do - play football."

When asked if he feels the burden of becoming the most valuable player of all time, surpassing Paul Pogba following his £89m move to Manchester United last summer, Neymar cracked a joke.

He said: "It's not an extra burden. I weigh 69kg, and I'll remain at 69kg. "

For PSG owner Al-Khelaifi there were no second thoughts when it came to launching an historic bid for the striker who excelled alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez for four years at Barcelona.

"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 St 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.

"Today, it might seem expensive. But in two years' time it might not anymore.

"We will make money together in the coming years as it is a two-brand project. Concerning Financial Fair Play, we have always been transparent."

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