BARCELONA • Spanish football club Barcelona have reportedly blocked payment of a €26 million (S$42 million) bonus to star striker Neymar as speculation mounts that he will move to Paris Saint-Germain.
The Brazilian, who is due to return to training today, is at the centre of an apparent tug of war between the two European giants in what would be the most expensive transfer fee in football history.
It is believed that the 25-year-old could quit Barcelona for PSG for a world-record €222 million.
"These €26 million have been placed with a notary pending to see if the player continues (to remain at Barcelona)," a source told AFP.
The renewal bonus was agreed upon a year ago when Neymar extended his contract with Barcelona until 2021 and it was due to be paid to the player after he completed a year. But the club have decided to put it on hold, waiting to see how the situation develops.
The contract Neymar signed also increased an early termination clause from a fee of €200 million to €222 million, which PSG is reportedly willing to pay.
Neymar's future is the talk of Spanish football, and particularly Barcelona supporters.
After a successful pre-season tour in the United States that saw Barcelona win against Juventus, Manchester United and Real Madrid, the footballer flew to China for a promotion trip.
But he studiously avoided commenting on the situation.
Yesterday, Neymar arrived in Dubai, announcing via his Instagram account that he was in the United Arab Emirates and posted a video and pictures of himself and some friends eating together.
He also used social media to quote a passage from the Bible that could be interpreted as a hint regarding his potential move to the French capital.
"I am not saying this because I am in need," the 25-year-old wrote.
"For I have learnt to be content whatever the circumstances.
"I know what it is to be in need and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learnt the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want."
Some reports suggested his next destination would be Brazil, Qatar or Paris, but, according to ESPN FC, he will return to training with his Barcelona team-mates today.
On Monday, beIN Sports Mena, which has close ties with PSG's Qatari owners, tweeted that Neymar will be leaving Barcelona.
Later, French publication L'Equipe reported that despite suggestions that Neymar will undergo a medical examination in Qatar this week, any tests are more likely to come later in the week in Paris, and possibly next Monday.