Neymar has become the most expensive player in soccer history after completing his blockbuster transfer to Paris Saint-Germain from Barcelona on Thursday for $262 million.
PSG triggered the release clause in the forward’s Barcelona contract, which was more than double the previous transfer record set a year ago when Manchester United paid $116 million for Paul Pogba.
PSG said in a statement that the 25-year-old Neymar had signed a five-year contract, until June 2022. PSG said “his arrival into the Paris Saint-Germain family emphasizes more than ever the club’s aims to rise to the top of world football.”
Barcelona did all it could to stop Neymar from leaving and had vowed to complain to the UEFA, European soccer’s ruling body, if his seemingly untouchable release clause was triggered.
The payment of the clause directly to the club was the second attempt Neymar’s representatives had made on Thursday to break his bond with Barcelona.
Earlier in the day, his lawyer, Juan de Dios Crespo, had tried to deposit the enormous sum at the Spanish league’s offices in Madrid, but he was turned away.
The league refused to accept the payment and wouldn’t act as an intermediary for the player, an official told the Associated Press at the time.
Neymar ended weeks of silence by telling Barcelona’s executives, players and coach on Wednesday that his intention was to leave the club after four seasons. His agent, Wagner Ribeiro, then confirmed the widespread speculation that had been building all summer that PSG was willing to pay the record sum to trigger the release clause.
Barcelona spokesman Josep Vives said the club would not negotiate and would demand the full payment of the clause. Last year, Neymar signed a new contract with Barcelona that tied him to the Catalan club through 2021.
League President Javier Tebas told Spanish sports daily AS on Wednesday that he thinks PSG is breaking UEFA’s financial fair play rules because its Qatari owners are closely linked to the energy-rich ruling family.
“We won’t accept the money from a club like PSG, which doesn’t belong to la Liga, and especially when it is breaking laws and rules,” Tebas told AS, claiming “the case of PSG is a clear example of financial doping by a state-supported club.”
Neymar is one of soccer’s top talents. He scored 105 goals playing alongside Lionel Messi and was a key playmaker for Barcelona as it won a Champions League, two Spanish leagues, three Copa del Reys, one Club World Cup, a UEFA Super Cup and two Spanish Super Cups.
1:25 p.m.: This article was updated with the completion of Neymar’s transfer to Paris Saint-Germain from Barcelona.
12:15 p.m.: This article was updated with Barcelona reporting that Neymar has bought out his contract with the team.
This article was originally published at 6:50 a.m.