Brazilian striker Neymar is leaving Paris Saint-Germain F.C.(PSG) and heading to Saudi Arabia’s Al-Hilal.
The deal, which some reports are calling comparable to what Cristiano Ronaldo got from Al-Nassr, includes a transfer fee of around $98.6 million and a reported salary of around $160 million for the two years, though some outlets are reporting numbers as high as $219 a year.
Neymar’s contract is set to be a two-year one, with an option for a third year. This likely means that the Brazilian forward’s last years at what has typically been considered a high-competition level, will be spent in a Saudi Arabia league whose level is far from what the European Leagues can offer.
Neymar had hoped to return to Barcelona on a loan, but the Spanish club’s financial woes made the move impossible.
Al-Hilal is one of four teams that are now majorly owned by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, a part of the country’s “Sports Investment and Privatization Project.” This partly explains the big-time signings we’ve seen in the last few months, as the League looks to raise both its level of competition and fame. Al-Hilal pursued both Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappé this summer before finally nabbing Neymar.
The Brazilian striker will join Kalidou Koulibaly, Rúben Neves, Sergej Milinković-Savić, and fellow Brazilian Malcom, who all recently signed with Al-Hilal.
Neymar’s relationship with PSG had been rocky for years, but Lionel Messi’s departure to the MLS and Kylian Mbappé’s decision to remain with PSG are rumored to have played a role in Neymar’s decision to move to Al-Hilal. Unlike Messi, who Neymar counts as a close friend, the relationship between him and Mbappé has reportedly been rocky for a while.
And just recently, Neymar himself allegedly liked an Instagram post that theorized that Mbappé was a key reason for Neymar’s move away from PSG. According to the claim, “Mbappé made it clear to PSG that there was no more room for him and Neymar in the same squad.”
Neymar’s $222 million move from Barcelona to PSG in the summer of 2017 remains the most expensive transfer in fútbol history.