Football

Barca block payment 
of Neymar's bonus

Barcelona have blocked the payment of a 26-million-euro (S$41.5m) bonus for star attacker Neymar as speculation mounts that he will move to Paris Saint-Germain, a source at the Spanish club said yesterday.

The Brazilian star is at the centre of an apparent tug-of- war between the two European giants in what would be the most expensive transfer in football history. Speculation is mounting that the 25-year-old could quit Barcelona for PSG for a world-record 222m euros.

"These 26 million euros have been placed with a notary pending to see if the player continues," the source, who refused to be named, told AFP.

The renewal bonus was agreed on a year ago when Neymar extended his contract with Barcelona until 2021, and was due to be paid to the player after he completed a year.

But the club have decided to put it on hold, pending on how the situation evolves.

The contract Neymar signed also increased an early termination clause from 200m to 222m euros, which PSG are reportedly willing to pay.

A club source told ESPN FC that Neymar was heading back to Barcelona yesterday and is due to return to training with Ernesto Valverde's team today.

Neymar arrived in Dubai after fulfilling his promotional commitments in China as he posted on Instagram a video and pictures of himself and some friends eating together.

Various reports followed - some suggesting Neymar's next destination would be Brazil, others indicating Qatar or Paris - but a source has confirmed to ESPN FC that the forward was heading back to Spain and will return to training with his Barca teammates today.

Meanwhile, French publication L'Equipe reported that, despite Monday's suggestions from newspaper Al-Watan that Neymar will undergo a medical in Qatar this week, any tests are actually more likely to come later in the week in Paris.

Neymar also used social media while in Dubai to quote a passage from the Bible that could be interpreted as a hint regarding his future and a potential PSG move.

"I am not saying this because I am in need," he wrote. "For I have learnt to be content whatever the circumstances.

"I know what it is to be in need and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learnt the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well-fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want."

On Monday, beIN Sports Mena, which has close ties with PSG's Qatari owners, tweeted that it had been informed by its sources close to Barca that Neymar will be leaving the club. 
- WIRE SERVICES

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