Paris Saint-Germain has officially signed Neymar to a 5-year playing contract, ending a saga that had consumed the summer transfer market. The club will present the 25-year-old superstar at the Parc des Princes on Friday at 1:30 p.m. local time.
FC Barcelona had released the Brazilian earlier this afternoon, announcing it accepted a $263 million (€222 million) buy-out payment in full in an online statement. This came just hours after La Liga offices said it originally rejected that payment, ESPN FC reported. No reason was immediately known, though speculation was Barca requested UEFA to investigate how PSG could finance the transfer under fair pay rules.
Neymar informed his former club of his desire to go to the French capital just yesterday, the Catalonian club confirmed the on its website. In that same statement the club also reminded him it expects to be paid his buy-out clause in its entirety. The player was relieved from practice until the matter was resolved.
The fee PSG paid is a new transfer record, more than double the previous $120 million Manchester United paid for Paul Pogba one year ago, and 3.5 times what Barcelona paid to acquire Neymar from Brazilian team Santos just four years ago.
In addition, PSG confirmed it signed Neymar to a 5-year contract through June 2022 (five months before the World Cup in club owner’s country of Qatar) and is estimated to pay him $350 million in salary and bonus before-tax . All told the Parisian club is on the hook for a cash outlay in excess of $600 million for the winger’s services.
It is easy to see why Barca, which posted a record $770 million in revenue last year and is worth $3.64 billion as the second most valuable soccer club in the world, questioned how PSG could complete this transfer in compliance with UEFA Financial Fair Play rules. The Ligue 1 runner-up only generated $92 million in operating income and is worth $841 million. FFP limits club losses and contributions owners can spend to sign players.
But as my colleague Mike Ozanian reports, PSG owners Qatar Sports Investments’ influential oil money may have something to do with it. After the Qataris purchased the club they pumped an additional $340 million into it to recruit high-profile players, including Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Success followed. Since then, it has claimed the Ligue 1 title four times and was runner-up once. Financial disparity followed too. Per Sporting Intelligence’s annual Global Sports Salaries Survey 2016, PSG now leads the league in salary cost, paying an average $5.5 million per player, 21.5 times the average pay at Nancy, the club with the smallest average team salary. It’s the widest discrepancy in any major sport league in the world.
Mundo Deportivo reported QSI was willing to pay Neymar $350 million to be an ambassador for the 2022 World Cup to circumvent any FFP issues. Suspicious minds wondered if the Brazilian would then turn around and pay his own buy-out clause and save PSG the financial responsibility. What’s know as of now is Neymar’s “legal representatives” presented payment to Barcelona, and it is up to UEFA to investigate the transaction.
Regardless, Neymar now quadruples his take-home pay for his work on the pitch. Last season he made $15 million in salary and bonus from Barca. Combined with the $22 million he made in endorsements from the likes of Nike, Gillette, and Panasonic among others, he ranked No. 3 among the world’s highest paid soccer players with total earnings of $37 million last year.
Now this move could see his total earnings skyrocket to $93 million, and could propel him ahead of teammate and record 5-time FIFA player of the year Lionel Messi, who earned $80 million last season, and possibly ahead of reigning and 4-time player of the year Real Madrid Cristiano Ronaldo who earned $93 million in the top spot among the sport’s highest paid. He could also leapfrog into the top 5 world’s highest paid athletes with Ronaldo and the NBA’s LeBron James, right behind Floyd Mayweather and Connor McGregor, who each stand to bank an obscene 9-figure amount from their August 26 spectacle.
Nike could influence where he lands among athletes richest. It is already rumored the company was involved in his talks with PSG. Both athlete and club have sponsorship deals with the Swoosh.
Sources previously confirmed to Forbes that Neymar was looking to renegotiate this boot contract, noting his 7-figure annual haul is below market value, especially considering how often the international superstar pitches the brand to his 165 million followers across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. According to Hookit, which tracks the social engagement of athletes, he generated $124.5 million in media value for his sponsors across social media during 2016. That was second only to Ronaldo, who generated $937 million in value for his sponsors promoting them to his 277 million social media followers.
It would come as no surprise if a renewed shoe deal announcement comes on the heels of Neymar’s club contract. For perspective, LeBron and Ronaldo are the only two active athletes with lifetime deals with Nike, both worth upwards of $1 billion.