Neymar has been unveiled as the Saudi Pro League’s latest big-money signing, after Paris St-Germain agreed a final fee of £77 million plus add-ons with Al-Hilal.
“I’m here in Saudi Arabia – I am Al HILALI,” said the 31-year-old, who is believed to be in line to receive around £275 million over the course of his two-year contract.
Neymar’s representatives were understood to be immediately receptive to a big money offer from the same club that had been spurned by Kylian Mbappe last month.
While Mbappe has now returned to first-team training in Paris, Neymar was unveiled as an Al-Hilal player by the club after he passed his medical on Monday.
— AlHilal Saudi Club (@Alhilal_EN) August 15, 2023
With Lionel Messi joining Inter Miami earlier this summer, sources close to talks said the deal for Neymar marked the “official end of the Galacticos era in Paris”.
The incoming fee and the departure of a player receiving a salary of £21 million a year will significantly ease any financial fair play fears for the club. Nasser Al-Khelaifi, the PSG chairman, has given the green light to major reforms that will see Luis Enrique encouraged to sign younger talents.
Neymar was under contract with PSG until 2027 but is now the Saudi Pro League’s biggest name alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema.
Neymar is believed to have rejected the possibility of a loan move to his former club Barcelona. At Al-Hilal, the Brazilian joins up with a host of eye-catching signings, including Ruben Neves from Wolves and Kalidou Koulibaly from Chelsea.
The team were defeated 2-1 by Ronaldo’s Al-Nassr in the final of the Arab Club Champions Cup on Saturday.
Expenditure has been turbo-charged in the Saudi Pro League this summer after Al-Hilal became one of four of the kingdom’s top clubs to be taken over completely by the Public Investment Fund as part of plans to eventually privatise them.
As part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, there are aims for the revenue of the league to increase to £400 million annually by 2030. Turning the domestic league into an international force is just part of a grander, significantly more ambitious scheme that will see the nation attempt to bring the World Cup to the Middle East again.
Neymar, who will wear the club’s No 10 shirt, signed his contract at the Four Seasons George V Hotel in Paris with Al-Hilal chairman Fahad Bin Saad Bin Nafel.
“I have achieved a lot in Europe and enjoyed special times, but I have always wanted to be a global player and test myself with new challenges and opportunities in new places,” he said in a press release from the club. “I want to write new sporting history, and the Saudi Pro League has tremendous energy and quality players at the moment. I have heard a lot and learned that I am following a long list of Brazilian players who have played in Saudi Arabia over the years, so I believe it is the desired place.”
Bin Saad Bin Nafel said of his new signing: “Neymar Jr is a global icon who has brought joy and pleasure to all fans wherever he plays. The spotlight is always on him and he always responds to it. We are delighted to have him join Al-Hilal, the most successful club in all of Asia.”