Brazilian striker Neymar signed a five-year contract with Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) soccer club, a journalist for French radio station RMC said on Twitter.
“Neymar is Parisian! He signed a 5-year contract with PSG’s leaders in Barcelona!,” Mohamed Bouhafsi, RMC’s editor in charge of soccer coverage, said on Twitter.
— Mohamed Bouhafsi (@mohamedbouhafsi) August 3, 2017
Neymar’s last club FC Barcelona said on Thursday that the player’s representatives had paid the €222 million ($263 million) release clause in his contract.
Neymar’s legal representatives have paid Barcelona €222 million (£200.6million) to release the Brazilian from his contract ahead of the expected record-breaking move to Paris St Germain.
The delegation was turned away by LaLiga officials earlier on Thursday but Barcelona, who would only allow the 25-year-old striker to leave the club if his 222m euro release fee was met and paid in full, have accepted a payment “in the player’s name with regards to the unilateral termination of the contract that united both parties.”
A statement published on Barcelona’s official website said the details of the transaction would now be passed to UEFA so that the governing body can “determine the disciplinary responsibilities that may arise from this case.”
UEFA must now play its part in deciding whether Neymar – effectively a free agent following Thursday evening’s development – is able to complete what will be an historic switch to Ligue 1.
Earlier in the day his lawyers were sent to LaLiga headquarters in Madrid to pay the money, only to be snubbed.
“We can confirm that the player’s lawyers came to the LaLiga offices this morning to deposit the clause and that it has been rejected. That’s all the information we are giving out at this moment,” a statement from LaLiga read.
But France’s league body, the Ligue de Football Professionnel, responded with incredulity and told LaLiga it “demands they abide by the rules of FIFA and its responsibilities”.
A statement added: “The LFP is astonished and does not understand the refusal of LaLiga to simply accept payment of the release clause of the player Neymar.
“The LFP supports Paris St Germain and looks forward to the arrival of Neymar in Ligue 1.
“The legal services of the LFP are in support and available to Paris St Germain so that the contract of Neymar can be approved as soon as possible.”
Neymar indicated his willingness to depart the Nou Camp on Wednesday.
Reports in France had suggested a five-year contract to take Neymar to PSG could be finalised this week, and French newspaper Le Parisien claimed the Santos academy graduate is set to earn 30m euros (£27m) net per year, or close to 600,000 euros (£540,000) each week after tax.
The fee alone would obliterate the current record of 105m euros, worth £89m at the time, which Manchester United paid Juventus for Paul Pogba last summer.
Neymar scored more than 100 goals in four years with Barca and had a deal that ran until 2021.
At the Nou Camp he formed the fabled MSN strike partnership along with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez that delivered a treble of league, cup and Champions League in the 2014-15 season.
The sheer scale of the transfer has led to suggestions Barcelona could make a complaint to UEFA regarding Financial Fair Play regulations, and whether PSG are adhering to the rules. UEFA has yet to receive a complaint.
Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho said on Wednesday night that he did not think Neymar was an expensive purchase.
The Portuguese said: “For £200million I don’t think he is expensive. I think he is expensive (in) the fact that now you are going to have more players at £100million, you are going to have more players at £80million and more players at £60million. I think that’s the problem.
“Neymar is one of the best players in the world, commercially he is very strong and for sure Paris St Germain thought about it. So I think the problem is not Neymar, I think the problem is the consequences of Neymar.”
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, though, spoke about the projected move and said it is the Qatari backing behind PSG which has enabled them to potentially smash the world transfer record.
“It is the consequence of the ownerships and that has completely changed the whole landscape of football in the last 15 years,” he said.
“Once a country owns a club, everything is possible. It becomes very difficult to respect the Financial Fair Play because you can have different ways or different interests for a country to have such a big player to represent a country.”
Among the incredible numbers being touted, there was some humour to be found.
National League North side North Ferriby tweeted a spoof announcement of Neymar in one of their shirts, claiming they had pipped PSG to the post. They captioned it with: “We are delighted to announce that we’ve pipped PSG to the post. In other news, season passes are £2,845,212.”
Away from football, the world of sport is seemingly stunned at the money involved. American show SportsCenter tweeted a graphic of 10 of the NBA’s leading players – including LeBron James and Steph Curry – saying “this 10-man NBA roster costs 100m US dollars less than Neymar”.