Record-breaking Neymar jets into Paris for PSG presentation
ABS-CBN Sports on Aug 04, 2017 08:05 PM
A man views a soccer shirt bearing the name of Brazilian soccer star Neymar in the Paris Saint Germain store in Paris Friday, Aug. 4, 2017. Neymar was set to arrive in Paris on Friday the day after he became the most expensive player in soccer history when completing his blockbuster transfer to Paris Saint-Germain from Barcelona for 222 million euros ($262 million).(AP Photo/Michel Euler)
By Rob Harris, Associated Press
PARIS (AP) — Whether to catch a glimpse of Neymar or just to buy jerseys displaying his name, Paris Saint-Germain fans were drawn to the streets of the French capital Friday by soccer's most expensive signing.
The 222 million-euro ($262-million) forward flew from Barcelona on a private jet into a city whose soccer fortunes he is expected to transform after PSG more than doubled the sport's transfer record.
Neymar is swapping one of soccer's most illustrious teams — Barcelona has won every major honor multiple times — for a club just 47 years old and yet to win the biggest competitions outside France. With Neymar on board, supporters expect the team will achieve much more than just regain the French title from Monaco.
The transfer could also elevate the 25-year-old Neymar to new personal heights as he emerges from the shadow of Lionel Messi at Barcelona.
"He is one of the three best players in the world," 21-year-old PSG fan Sacha Cope said as he waited in line outside the club store on the Champs-Elysees on Friday morning to buy a Neymar jersey.
"He comes here to win the Champions League with Paris Saint-Germain. We are expecting that. If he can do that here, for sure he will win the Ballon D'Or. He couldn't do that at Barcelona because he was with Messi."
Neymar was being presented to the media at the club's stadium on Friday afternoon. It was unclear if he would make his debut when PSG opens its league season Saturday against Amiens, a team making its top-flight debut.
A record-breaking transfer leaves PSG having to squeeze every euro out of the signing — through sponsorship, merchandise and jersey sales — to ensure the club complies with European soccer's financial regulations.
Posters of the Brazilian — accompanied by the words "Welcome to a Paris Neymar Jr 10" — were unveiled to cheers on the front of the central Paris store where fans had been waiting for hours to get their hands on jerseys emblazoned with his name.
Philippe Chembon, a fan, flaunted a receipt showing he spent 623.50 euros ($740) on four Neymar jerseys.
"This is a very big moment for PSG," said the 63-year-old Chembon, who is older than the club.
When word spread late Thursday that Neymar could be staying at Le Royal Monceau in Paris, fans started to descend on the hotel. They weren't deterred from hanging around through the night, despite discovering Neymar wouldn't arrive until the morning.
"We think Neymar will help us to dream bigger and win everything," 20-year-old fan Samy El Amrani Jorey said outside the hotel at 1:30 a.m., adopting the club's motto.