Neymar asks to leave Barcelona, club confirms

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The Neymar transfer saga is reaching its climax.

Early Wednesday morning, FC Barcelona released a statement that Neymar and his father Neymar Santos Sr. had expressed their desire to leave the club following a meeting with team executives. It’s been widely reported that Paris Saint-Germain is Neymar’s next destination.

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The club also confirmed that while Neymar remains under contract at Barcelona, he has permission to stay away from preseason training.

Barcelona’s response to Neymar and his family was to say that the €222 million ($262.57 million) buy-out clause must be paid in full, which if done so, would make Neymar the world’s most expensive transfer.

Neymar is coming off a strong performance for Barcelona at the International Champions Cup in the U.S., scoring three goals with two assists over the three-game tour. However, since before the trip to America, it’s been rumored that Neymar wants to leave the club for a variety of reasons, with PSG the club strongest linked to be willing and able to pay the huge release clause.

Neymar’s transfer to PSG would send seismic shocks across the soccer landscape. While he’s surely a star and likely worth that amount of money, his transfer would raise a new bar for other players to meet in the future, and it would likely raise the price of transfers for players near his stratosphere of skill level.

But even more importantly, it would raise the pressure on Neymar, who at PSG would become the man, just like Zlatan Ibrahamovic was during his four-year stay. Nothing short of a league title and UEFA Champions League glory would suffice for Neymar if he does move to PSG for more than $260 million, and that’s a level of pressure thankfully most of us won’t ever have to shoulder in our lives.

The news also likely brings an end to Neymar’s time in Barcelona, where he grew from a starlet into a world star worthy of having a team built around him. Neymar appeared in 186 games in all competitions for Barcelona since joining the club from Santos, scoring 106 goals and dishing out 57 assists, including 21 last season.