14th August, 2023
Brazilian forward Neymar was “in negotiations” on Sunday to become the latest football superstar to decamp for Saudi Arabia, leaving Paris Saint-Germain.
A source close to PSG told AFP that 31-year-old Neymar “no longer figures in the club or manager’s plans” with the Brazilian immediately linked to Al-Hilal in the Gulf kingdom.
Another source in Saudi Arabia said that “direct negotiations” between Neymar’s agents and the Public Investment Fund (PIF) were ongoing.
“If we reach an agreement with him in the coming hours, we would start negotiating with PSG immediately. He would play for Al-Hilal if a deal is sealed,” said the source.
Neymar joined PSG for a record 220 million euros ($241m) from Barcelona in 2017. Some media reports on Sunday claimed that Al-Hilal would offer in the region of $80 million for the Brazilian.
Last month Al-Hilal made a 300-million-euro bid for another PSG star Kylian Mbappe, though the striker reportedly refused to meet with officials from the team.
Neymar underwent surgery on his right ankle in early March, only returning to join PSG on their pre-season tour of Asia.
His time at PSG has been blighted by a catalogue of injuries.
Although he helped the club to the 2020 Champions League final he has often been sidelined for key games.
If Neymar does end up moving to Saudi Arabia he will join a growing list of top players lured to the oil-rich kingdom since Cristiano Ronaldo moved to Al-Nassr in January.
Al-Hilal have traditionally been one of Saudi Arabia’s top clubs and have been crowned Asian Champions League winners on four occasions.
They are coached by Portugal’s Jorge Jesus, who is in his second spell at the club, while the squad currently boasts four international players recently lured from Europe — Ruben Neves, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Kalidou Koulibaly and Neymar’s Brazilian compatriot Malcom.
Neymar’s anticipated departure from PSG would follow that of Lionel Messi who now plays for Inter Miami in the United States.