Football

Twist in Neymar saga as La Liga rejects PSG’s payment

French Soccer League asks Spanish counterpart not to block Brazilian's move

The world-record transfer of Neymar from Barcelona to Paris St Germain has hit a snag after La Liga refused to accept the release clause for the striker.

Barcelona had said that they would allow the 25-year-old to make the staggering switch only if his buy-out clause of 222 million euros (S$357m) was met and paid in full.

But, in an unexpected twist, lawyers for the player were turned away yesterday morning when they arrived at the offices of La Liga to pay the money required.

"We can confirm that the player's lawyers came to the La Liga offices this morning to deposit the clause and that it has been rejected. That's all the information we are giving out at this moment," a statement from La Liga read.

The French soccer league LFP said yesterday it did not understand why the Spanish league rejected payment for Neymar's record-breaking release clause and asked them not to block the move.

"LFP... does not understand the refusal by Liga to simply accept the payment for the release clause for player Neymar," LFP said in a statement.

It now remains to be seen what the next step in this most astronomical of transfers will be, with a league body intervening almost unheard of.

Despite needing to post the record amount in full, PSG are reportedly unfazed by such a demand after Neymar indicated his willingness to depart the Nou Camp on Wednesday.

Reports in France had suggested a five-year contract to bring Neymar to Ligue 1 could be finalised this week, and French newspaper Le Parisien claimed the 25-year-old is set to earn 30m euros net per year, or close to 600,000 euros each week after tax.

The eye-watering fee alone would obliterate the current record of 105m euros, worth £89 million at the time, which Manchester United paid Juventus for Paul Pogba last summer.

The blockbuster transfer of the summer that once looked fanciful now appears set to come to fruition, with Neymar's Barcelona teammate Lionel Messi even wishing his colleague good luck on social media.

Messi posted a message on his Instagram account on Wednesday with a series of images of him and Neymar, alongside the caption: "It was an enormous pleasure to have shared all these years with you friend @neymarjr I wish you good luck in this new stage of your life."

Neymar later responded with the comment: "Thank you brother... I will miss you uncle!"

French President Emmanuel Macron yesterday gave his seal of approval to Neymar's expected transfer to PSG.

"It adds attractiveness. Yes, it's good news," Macron told journalists as he visited a holiday centre for children outside Paris.

Macron also congratulated Qatari-owned PSG's chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi, who was attending the same event.

"Congratulations, I believe there has been good news," the president told him, referring to Neymar's expected arrival.

Khelaifi responded with a smile.

The sheer scale of the transfer has led to suggestions Barcelona could make a complaint to Uefa regarding financial fair-play regulations, and whether PSG are adhering to the rules. Uefa has yet to receive a complaint. - WIRE SERVICES

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