Record-breaking Neymar says money not motive for joining PSG
ABS-CBN Sports on Aug 04, 2017 08:47 PM
Brazilian soccer star Neymar speaks during a press conference in Paris Friday, Aug. 4, 2017. Neymar arrived 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) — Neymar insisted that money was not a motivation in deciding to join Paris Saint-Germain and said Friday that he would not be burdened by his 222 million-euro ($262-million) price tag.
The Brazilian star flew in from Barcelona on a private jet for his official presentation, arriving in a city whose soccer fortunes he is expected to transform.
At a packed Paris news conference, Neymar found it "really sad" to be asked whether the riches on offer were the reason for his decision to swap one of soccer's most illustrious teams — Barcelona has won every major honor multiple times — for a club yet to win the biggest competitions outside of France.
"I was never motivated by money," Neymar said at the PSG stadium. "What I think about is happiness. If I was following the money I would maybe be in some other country."
The move more than doubled the previous transfer record.
"The fact I am the most expensive player is not a burden. I am 69 kilograms (152 pounds)," Neymar said through a translator.
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.
"We look at Neymar as a brand," PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi said. "I don't think he is expensive because I think (the transfer) will pay more than we paid."
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 forward 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."
It was unclear if Neymar would make his debut when PSG opens its league season Saturday against Amiens, a team making its top-flight debut.
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.