Brazilian superstar, Neymar, is set to complete his move to Paris Saint-Germain after telling Barcelona and his team mates he plans to leave.
Barcelona confirmed the development on Wednesday.
“Neymar Junior, accompanied by his father and agent, has this morning informed FC Barcelona of his decision to leave the club during a meeting held in the club’s offices,” the club said in a statement on Wednesday.
“Given this position, the club referred them to the buyout clause stipulated in his contract, which since 1 July stands at €222m and must be paid in its entirety.
“In reference to the [player’s camp’s] demand to be paid the renewal bonus [related to last summer’s contract renewal], the club reiterated that the bonus has been deposited with a notary pending the resolution of the case.”
With PSG ready to pay the fee, Neymar will become by far the world’s most expensive player. The fee would dwarf the €105m Manchester United reportedly paid Juventus for Paul Pogba last summer.
According to media reports, Barcelona players were disappointed to learn of Neymar’s departure as they had hoped to convince him to stay.
The influential defender, Gerard Piqué, was quoted last week as saying Neymar “does not know what to do” and that his team-mates would try to “help him make the right decision”.
Barca said the Brazil international informed his team-mates “that he had the intention of leaving the club and seeking his future elsewhere, and the coach has given him permission to leave training”.
The club said Neymar left the training ground 30 minutes after arriving on Wednesday.
Several media sources claimed that a five-year contract for Neymar had been ready for several days at PSG and just needs to be signed.
The deal is understood to be worth around €30m a year, almost doubling his current salary.
Barcelona confirmed that a bonus due to Neymar for renewing his contract last season had been put on hold, rather than paid out, pending the resolution of his transfer.
That bonus may explain the silence from Neymar’s camp since the rumours of his imminent departure began to swirl.
Neymar’s father drove the deal for his renewal with Barca last season and is reported to be due to collect the bonus from August 1.
Barcelona have found support from La Liga, which has indicated it would be reluctant to sign off the move.
Legally, however, it appears it has little way of preventing Neymar from triggering his buyout clause as stipulated in its rules and formally becoming a free agent ready to sign for the French club, said analysts.
FIFA and UEFA rules do not contemplate a scenario in which the Spanish league can prevent a buyout clause being triggered. There has been no suggestion from Barcelona they will complain that he was tapped up.
PSG must now complete the deal by paying the buyout clause. The league’s desire not to sanction the payment stems from a keenness to challenge the financial power of PSG, whose role as competitors to Madrid and Barcelona was long feared and now comes sharply into focus.
In an interview with Mundo Deportivo at the weekend, the league’s president, Javier Tebas, said: “We will [make a complaint about PSG] because they infringe UEFA’s financial fair play rules and also the European Union’s competition rules. We will make a complaint to UEFA and if they don’t do anything we will take it to the competition tribunals in Switzerland and Brussels. And, from there, we don’t rule out going through the courts in France and Spain.
“Two months ago, I met the president of PSG at La Liga’s offices and I told him what we were going to do and the reasons why. He was angry with me and said that he did not understand. We have a relationship [through the Qatari sports channel BeIn] for Spanish football but La Liga must defend our clubs in these situations.”
UEFA has said it has not received a complaint but would look into the details of the transfer if it goes ahead. “PSG must respect financial fair play rules as do all other clubs in Europe,” it has said. “They must demonstrate that they do not have losses of more than €30m over three years.”
PSG, though, have always been aware of the implications of FFP on this transfer and have been working on ways of complying with that and still landing Neymar. They have been in regular contact with Neymar’s father.