The world’s most expensive footballer, Brazilian superstar Neymar, landed in the French capital Friday following his record transfer from Spanish giants Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain.
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Fans swarmed a PSG outlet on the Champs Elysees to buy shirts with Neymar’s name and number on the back as the 25-year-old forward headed for the city centre in a motorcade after arriving in a private jet shortly before 11am (0900 GMT) at Le Bourget airport north-east of Paris.
Neymar had flown in from Barcelona a day after completing a 222 million-euro ($264 million) move from the Spanish club and will earn a reported 30 million euros ($35.5 million) annually in a five-year deal.
“I am extremely happy to join Paris Saint-Germain,” Neymar said late Thursday.
“Since I arrived in Europe, the club has always been one of the most competitive and most ambitious. And the biggest challenge, what most motivated me to join my new teammates is to help the club to conquer the titles that their fans want.
“Paris Saint-Germain’s ambition attracted me to the club, along with the passion and the energy this brings. I played four seasons in Europe and I feel ready to take the challenge.
“From today, I will do everything I can to help my new teammates, to open up new horizons for my club and to bring happiness to its millions of supporters around the world.”
Neymar will appear at a press conference at the PSG’s Parc des Princes stadium at 1:30pm (1130 GMT).
He will then be presented to fans at the same ground at around 3:45pm on Saturday before the season-opening Ligue 1 fixture against promoted Amiens.
More than 1,000 fans showed up at the PSG store when shirts bearing his name went on sale Friday as the club wasted no time in cashing in on Neymar’s commercial value.
Football legend Pele congratulated Neymar on his move, telling his successor in the famed Brazilian number 10 shirt: “Good luck for your new challenge”.
“Paris is a beautiful city and one of my favourites in the world,” three-time World Cup-winner Pele wrote on Twitter.
The transfer is more than double the previous world record set by Manchester United’s capture of Paul Pogba from Juventus last year for 105 million euros, leaving many commentators aghast at the rampant inflation in football transfer fees.
Leading coaches such as Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger and Manchester United’s Jose Mourinho lamented that the move could cause even greater inflation in transfer fees and player wages.