Football

Neymar to discuss Paris St Germain move today

Brazilian star to meet French club chairman in Doha today to discuss world-record transfer

Barcelona forward Neymar will fly to Qatar today to discuss a potential world-record transfer fee of 222 million euro (S$354m) to Paris St Germain, according to media reports.

The 25-year-old Brazilian would become the most expensive footballer of all time if Ligue 1 club PSG sign him for a fee more than double the one Manchester United paid Juventus for Paul Pogba last summer.

Yesterday, Qatari newspaper El Watan and various European publications claimed Neymar will visit Doha to meet PSG chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi ahead of what would be a historic move.

The stopover on a return flight from a promotional trip to China could also include a medical, reports suggested.

Neymar, who has remained tight-lipped about the transfer rumours, greeted fans in Shanghai yesterday and posted a message for Chinese fans on Weibo, China's equivalent of Twitter, after arriving for a promotional visit.

"Ni Hao China! I'm Neymar Jr. and I've just arrived in China," he wrote in the message, which meant "How are you, China?" in Mandarin.

"I'm in Shanghai at the moment. I would like to send a huge hug to all my Chinese fans, thank you very much for your support."

He posted messages in English and Chinese and asked for suggestions as to what he should do while in Shanghai, where he was scheduled to appear at an event for a fashion brand yesterday.

Neymar has a contract with Barca running until 2021 that contains a 222m-euro release clause, which ambitious PSG, deposed by Monaco as French champions last term, are prepared to activate.

PSG stars Thiago Silva and Dani Alves, both colleagues of Neymar in the Brazil squad, have spoken about their countryman's potential switch to Paris, with the latter urging his friend to "be brave".

The player whom Barca signed from Santos in 2013 was heavily involved in the Catalan giants' 3-2 friendly victory over La Liga arch-rivals Real Madrid in Miami on Saturday night.

After the game, Real captain Sergio Ramos said he hoped he had faced Neymar in a Barca shirt for "the last time" whereas newly-installed Nou Camp boss Ernesto Valverde stressed the striker's importance to his team as he looks to reclaim the Spanish title from Real.

Last week, Neymar added fuel to the speculation about his long-term future at Barca by storming out of training following an angry confrontation with teammate Nelson Semedo.

Hours later, PSG defender Silva said details of a possible transfer might emerge "soon".

Even after the training-ground bust-up, his Barcelona teammates said they wanted him to stay at the Nou Camp.

"Neymar and I, we are very close and I want him to stay and I know the situation," defender Gerard Pique told ESPN FC.

"Right now, he doesn't know what to do and we are trying to help him - the ones (on the team) who are closer to him - to take the right decision."

Neymar, who was the catalyst for Barca's famous Champions League comeback against PSG in March, has scored over 100 goals in all competitions for the Spanish giants.

PSG's pursuit of Neymar has angered some in Spain, where football league chief Javier Tebas says he will file a complaint with Uefa for financial fairplay breaches by the French club. - WIRE SERVICES

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