Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar still isn’t giving up hope of returning to FC Barcelona on the cusp of his expected transfer to Al-Hilal, according to L’Equipe.
The Brazilian should complete his move sometime this week, after his current employers accepted an offer from the Saudis with whom he agreed personal terms at the weekend.
Neymar has remained the subject of the world transfer record since 2017 when PSG triggered his €222 million ($243 million) release clause that summer.
Six years on, the Qatari-owned Ligue 1 giants will receive €90 million ($100 million) for the forward who had a contract to run until mid-2027 at the Parc des Princes.
Increasing his chances of immediately topping Forbes’ list of The World’s Highest-Paid Athletes in its next edition, Neymar will be paid €150 million ($164 million) a season in the Middle East according to Sky News.
By the time his two-year deal in the Saudi Pro League expires, Neymar will be well past his 33rd birthday.
As reported by L’Equipe, though, he hopes to return to his first European club Barca a free agent around this time after failing to get a second stint in Catalonia off the ground this summer.
With Barca unable to afford a transfer fee for Neymar in 2023, there was talk of him first being bought by Al-Hilal and then loaned to the Blaugrana which the player reportedly tried his hardest to see realized.
Said to earn $50 million a year on-field by Forbes, Neymar was also reportedly willing to reduce his wages to €12 million ($13 million) a term at the Montjuic Stadium where Xavi Hernandez’s men will play in 2023/2024 while Camp Nou is being renovated.
In 2025, Neymar could accept that pay from Barca or even less given his age. But whether Xavi would want him, if he is still the manager, is another matter entirely.
While president Joan Laporta backed Neymar’s return because of the extra revenue it could bring in during a time when Barca expect to lose €90 million ($99 million) thanks to their switch to the Montjuic Stadium, Xavi was reported as being sceptical about having his former teammate in the first team squad.
The legendary midfielder was worried about the influence a figure who has a reputation for his love of nightlife could have on the younger personnel in the locker room, and Laporta would have needed to convince his manager that the deal would be worthwhile.
As things turned out, the Saudis would not entertain the prospect of temporarily shipping their incoming star player out to Barca, and the short length of the deal made it a non-starter in any event.
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