By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – After weeks of speculation regarding the future of Brazilian superstar Neymar, on Wednesday, August 2nd, Barcelona FC released a statement confirming that Neymar met with club officials early Wednesday morning to bid farewell to the club he has played on since 2013.
“The player Neymar Jr., accompanied by his father and agent, has informed FC Barcelona this morning of his decision to leave the club in a meeting held at the club’s offices,” read the statement.
In addition to meeting with team officials, the 25-year-old forward also met with his Barcelona teammates before a scheduled training session to inform them that he was leaving.
After speaking with head coach Ernesto Valverde, Neymar left the practice facility and, according to the club, will not participate in further training with the team. “[Neymar] remains under contract at FC Barcelona but with temporary permission to not take part in training sessions.”
Wednesday’s development comes amidst numerous reports that Neymar is about to sign a record-shattering deal with Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) that some have estimated to be worth more than half a billion dollars.
This includes payment of an onerous €222 million (US$262 million) release clause, a figure that more than doubles the current transfer record set by Paul Pogba’s €105 million (US$124 million) move to Manchester United last year.
And Barcelona officials made clear that they expect to receive every penny of this record-breaking amount. “[T]he Club has informed [Neymar] that the buy-out clause of his existing contract, which as of July 1st totals €222 million, will have to be deposited, in its entirety.”
Preliminary reports indicate that once the buyout has been paid, PSG is prepared to pay Neymar around €30 million (US$35 million) a year, after taxes, in salary over the next five years. Neymar’s father, who also acts as his agent, is expected to earn a handsome commission of approximately €40 million (US$47 million).
With Neymar’s departure now seemingly assured, Barcelona teammate and five-time World Player of the Year, Lionel Messi, posted a touching video tribute to Neymar to Instagram on Wednesday with the message, “It was an enormous pleasure to have shared all these years with you, my friend. I wish you lots of luck in this new chapter of your life.”