Neymar has been unveiled by new club Paris Saint-Germain following his £198million move, saying he wanted a ‘new challenge’.
The Brazilian striker has swapped Barcelona for Paris in a world record smashing deal, and has signed a £500,000-a-week, five year contract.
He said he had not been sure over his future for a long time, but had been convinced by the other Brazilian players at PSG and was looking forward to the challenge. He also said he had not moved in order to be the biggest star at the club, although he did not give an exact reason for wanting to leave Barcelona.
At a press conference, Neymar said ‘The club has a very similar ambition to mine, I want a bigger challenge. My heart made this decision, that is why I am in front of you today to help this team.
‘Being a star did not impact my decision, it is down to me wanting to find a new challenge. I am looking for something new. This is what PSG want, and they deserve it.
‘I leave a lot of very good friends behind, but that’s football. You make friends wherever you go, and that’s the main thing. It was the right time to leave and look for something different. Being the most expensive player is not a burden, I am happy.
‘I spoke with Brazilian players here at PSG, and they were happy for me to be here. I feel like I am at home already.
‘Two days ago I informed the coach, he was the first to know, I respect the club and the coach. I am very happy with my decision, I am excited.’
Neymar said he was saddened by criticism from sections of the Barca fans after deciding to leave, and that while he respected the Catalan giants he had to right to seek a new challenge.
According to Neymar ‘Two days ago I informed the coach, he was the first to know, I respect the club and the coach. I am very happy with my decision, I am excited.
‘I’ve done nothing bad, I never lack respect to the fans, I think every player should be allowed to stay or leave a club. When a player thinks it is right to leave, they should be able to leave.
Neymar also said he was motivated by playing for the PSG ‘project’, rather than being tempted by any individual players, as he was when he initially joined Barca from Santos.
‘I signed for Barcelona and one of the main things was to play with Messi. Here it is the club, the PSG project, all the members of the team.
‘I want to write history here at PSG. There are new challenges, the biggest is the Champions League, but we want all possible trophies.’
PSG owner Nasser Al-Khelaifi said their fans had been ‘dreaming’ about them signing Neymar, and they were now aiming to win the Champions League.
‘Neymar is an idol for the whole world, for everyone who loves sport. As far as I am concerned Neymar is the best player in the whole world.
Our supporters have always dreamed about Neymar, and today here he is. Our project has become stronger, and Ligue 1 becomes more interesting for the whole world.
Maybe today it is the most expensive, but will it be in two or three years? I don’t think it is too expensive. We are going to make more money than we paid. For the brand of Neymar it is not expensive. There is no second Neymar in the world.’
‘For sure, our ambition is to win the Champions League, it is always there. We want to win the maximum trophies that we can. We cannot say we will win it, but we will fight for it.’
Al-Khelaifi played down concerns about the fee and the Financial Fair Play implications, and said they had paid his release clause, after rumours Neymar had paid it himself.
‘From day one, we are on a good relationship with UEFA and Financial Fair Play. Anyone thinking about FFP, I say go and have coffee, we are fine.
‘What we care only is that we have worked very transparently with UEFA, otherwise people can say what they want.’
Neymar was unveiled in a lunchtime press conference in Paris, and was earlier greeted on the La Bourget airport tarmac by recently retired PSG left back and Brazil international Maxwell, now an ambassador for the club, after flying in from Spain.
PSG shirts with Neymar’s name on the back went officially on sale on Friday, with fans queuing down the Champs Elysees to buy them from the club shop.