Barcelona confirm PSG target Neymar wants to leave, demand €222m
Barcelona have confirmed that Paris Saint-Germain target Neymar intends to leave the club but insisted that his €222 million buyout clause be paid in full.
Neymar, who flew back to Catalonia on Tuesday after a promotional trip to China, had been expected to resume training on Wednesday, but only stopped in to say goodbye to his Barcelona teammates before being excused from practicing, with sources telling ESPN International correspondent Gemma Soler that the Brazil international then flew to Portugal for medical tests ahead of his PSG move.
"Neymar Jr hasn't trained on Wednesday with the permission of the coach," the club announced on Twitter.
Neymar Jr hasn't trained on Wednesday with the permission of the coach #FCBlive— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) August 2, 2017
Contacted by ESPN FC, a Barcelona spokesperson said: "Firstly, the player came to training today as expected; secondly, he spoke to his teammates to say goodbye because his intention is to leave the club; and thirdly, due to the situation the manager has given him permission not to train."
The club later released a statement, which read: "The player Neymar Jr, accompanied by his father and agent, has informed FC Barcelona this morning of his decision to leave the Club in a meeting held at the Club's offices.
"Faced with this position, the Club has informed them they refer to the buy-out clause of his existing contract which as of 1 July totals 222 million euros which will have to be deposited in its entirety."
Barca also referred to the €26m bonus that Neymar's father had been due to collect this week as part of the contract renewal his son signed last year.
Given that Neymar is now expected to leave before completing that contract, Barca believe they should pay only a percentage of the fee.
Upon leaving a Barcelona airport later in the day, Neymar Sr told gathered media: "We will speak tomorrow."
The statement continued: "In reply to the claim for the contract extension bonus, the Club has once again made it clear that the amount remains deposited with a notary until the case is resolved.
"The player remains under contract at FC Barcelona but with temporary permission to not take part in training sessions."
La Liga president Javier Tebas had earlier said the Spanish league will not accept the money for the buyout clause and vowed to complain about PSG to UEFA and the European Union for what he feels are clear breaches of financial fair play.
Meanwhile, Wagner Ribeiro, who is no longer officially Neymar's agent but still does work for his father's company, N&N Consulting, confirmed to ESPN FC he was in Paris to finalise a deal with PSG.
Paris maravilhosa , da Torre Eifel, do vinho, da gastronomia e do FUTEBOL. pic.twitter.com/iuWuRM6moW— Wagner Ribeiro (@wagneribeiro_) August 2, 2017
Ribeiro had written on Twitter on Wednesday: "Marvellous Paris, of the Eiffel Tower, of wine, of gastronomy and of FOOTBALL."
A source told ESPN FC last month that Neymar had already agreed terms on a contract, while French publication L'Equipe had reported on Tuesday that a PSG medical was likely to take place either at the end of the week or on Monday.
Meanwhile, playmaker Javier Pastore granted his shirt number to Neymar, telling Cadena Ser: "I would like to offer my No. 10 to Neymar. I want him to be happy right from his first day at PSG."
ESPN FC's PSG correspondent, Jonathan Johnson, contributed to this report.
Samuel Marsden covers Barcelona for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @SamuelMarsden.