PARIS (AFP) ˗ Neymar said he was relishing “new challenges and opportunities in new places” after he joined Saudi Arabia’s Al-Hilal from Paris Saint-Germain on a two-year deal on Tuesday, Aug. 15, becoming the latest big name lured to the oil-rich Gulf state.
The Brazil forward, 31, ends a six-year stay in the French capital and follows in the footsteps of Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Sadio Mane in swapping Europe for the Middle East.
“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,” Neymar said in a statement from the Saudi Pro League.
“I want to write new sporting history, and the Saudi Pro League has tremendous energy and quality players at the moment,” he added.
“Al-Hilal is a giant club with fantastic fans, and it is the best in Asia. This gives me a feeling that it is the right decision for me at the right time with the right club. I love winning and scoring goals, and I plan to continue doing that in Saudi Arabia and with Al-Hilal.”
Neymar joined PSG from Barcelona in 2017 for a world record fee of 222 million euros ($242 million), a few weeks before they recruited Kylian Mbappe.
The Brazilian scored 118 goals in 173 matches for PSG, winning five Ligue 1 titles and three French Cups, but his time at PSG was blighted by a catalogue of injuries.
Although he helped the club to the 2020 Champions League final, which they lost 1-0 to Bayern Munich, he was sidelined for key games.
Neymar underwent surgery on his right ankle in early March, only returning to join PSG on their pre-season tour of Asia.
However, he no longer figured in new coach Luis Enrique’s plans and was immediately linked with a move to Al-Hilal, where he will earn “100 million euros a season”, according to a source close to the negotiations.