PARIS – Neymar will watch from the stands as Paris Saint-Germain open their season Saturday, but the French club have already clawed back around a million euros on their world record investment thanks to selling a staggering 10 000 shirts bearing the Brazilian’s name in just one day.
The 25-year-old superstar, signed from Barcelona for a mind-boggling €222 million (about R3.53 billion), will be presented to the PSG support prior to his new team’s first game of the Ligue 1 campaign against promoted Amiens.
A ceremony will begin at 3.45pm French time, with the kickoff put back quarter of an hour to 5.15pm to allow extra time for the player’s unveiling before an expected sell-out crowd of more than 45 000 at the Parc des Princes.
However, Neymar’s hopes of playing in the match were dashed when his international transfer certificate failed to be lodged with the French league by the midnight deadline on Friday.
“I am ready to start on Saturday if I can,” he said before falling victim to the constraints of paperwork.
Despite the minor setback, Neymar has already started repaying his mammoth transfer fee.
PSG said that more than 10 000 shirts bearing his name and his new number No 10 were sold on Friday.
At an average of €100 each, PSG generated €1 million even before he had kicked a ball.
Money was the subject of most of the questions fired at the Brazilian when he was unveiled to the media on Friday after arriving in the French capital on a private jet.
However, Neymar, who is poised to earn around €30m a year, insisted financial gain was not a factor.
“I want something bigger, a greater challenge. I am here to give my best and help the club win titles,” said Neymar, who signed a five-year contract with the Qatar-owned club.
He insisted he had come to France “for the ambition of the club, which is very similar to mine.”
Neymar admitted that leaving Barcelona, where he formed part of a lethal attacking trio with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, was not a decision he took lightly.
“It was one of my most difficult decisions. In Barcelona, I had adapted well to the city and the team. I had friends there and it has not been easy,” he said.
“It was a tense time, thinking about what I should do in my life. I have left behind a lot of friends, but things go very fast in football.”
That's a lot of jogo bonito in one picture 🇧🇷😁 pic.twitter.com/D72eUDqYdH
Neymar will become the second highest-paid player in the world – behind Carlos Tevez and his €38m per year at Shanghai Shenhua, but ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo’s €23.6m annual salary at Real Madrid.
The transfer fee shattered the previous world record of €105m set by Manchester United in signing France midfielder Paul Pogba last year from Juventus.