MADRID • Barcelona will not pay a €26 million (S$41.94 million) bonus to Neymar for renewing his contract with the Spanish football giants last year, a club spokesman said yesterday after his decision to join Paris Saint-Germain for a world record transfer fee.
Josep Vives admitted Barcelona had been left irritated by the Brazilian's decision to leave, despite signing a new five-year deal last year as PSG paid his €222 million buyout clause to leave Barcelona powerless to prevent Neymar moving on.
"Any separation causes annoyance, especially when it is one not wished for by the club due to a unilateral decision on the part of the player," Vives told a press conference at the Camp Nou.
"The player hasn't fulfilled his contract with the club... given that breach, the club will not pay this renewal bonus."
Barca had deposited the bonus with a notary to be paid on Sept 1 had Neymar remained at the club, but have already recovered the €26 million.
During his presentation as a PSG player yesterday, Neymar said that "at no point did I lack respect to the supporters or the club" in deciding to bring to an end his four years in Catalonia.
However, Vives insisted Barca are unhappy with the way in which his exit came about.
WORLD-RECORD DEALS THROUGH THE YEARS
The transfer market has come a long way since Alf Common became the first footballer to be valued at £1,000 (S$1,780) in 1905. The Straits Times looks at the evolution of the transfer market over the last century.
ALF COMMON, 1905
The English striker joins Middlesbrough from Sunderland in the first four-figure transfer fee.
TREVOR FRANCIS, 1979
Born in Plymouth, Francis made his name as a striker with Birmingham City. In February 1979, he moved to Nottingham Forest as the first million-pound footballer.
DIEGO MARADONA, 1982
The record was broken twice for Maradona, with his move from Boca Juniors to Barcelona and his £5 million switch to Napoli in 1984.
ALAN SHEARER, 1996
The Premier League showed its emerging financial muscle when the England striker joined Newcastle from Blackburn.
LUIS FIGO, 2000
The Portugal playmaker's acrimonious move from Barcelona to Real Madrid kick-started the galactico era in earnest.
CRISTIANO RONALDO, 2009
Real Madrid prised the Portuguese away from Manchester United.
PAUL POGBA, 2016
The Frenchman overtook Gareth Bale as the world's most expensive player in rejoining Manchester United from Juventus.
"There is annoyance at the decision, but also the way it came about," Vives said.
Yet, Vives claimed Barca can bounce back from losing out on La Liga and the Champions League last season with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez still among a star-studded squad.
"He is a great player, we have enjoyed him a lot, but the world doesn't end after Neymar," Vives said. "It is not the first time that we have gone through a situation like this and the club has continued, grown and become more universal."
The move is not just a huge blow for Barca's prospects on the field, but their prestige as one of the world's richest and most successful clubs.
It is 17 years since Barca last lost one of their prized assets against their will when Real Madrid paid Luis Figo's buyout clause for a then- world record fee.
Earlier yesterday, Neymar admitted that he chose to leave Barcelona for Paris Saint-Germain against the advice of his father.
"A sportsman needs challenges. And for the second time in my life, I am going against the advice of my dad," the Brazilian wrote in a long post in Spanish on his Instagram account.
"Dad, I understand and respect your opinion, but my decision is taken, I ask that you support me as you always have done."
Neymar added that his family "has suffered a lot with problems that have occurred in this period of my career and deserve peace. It is a difficult decision, but one taken with the maturity of my 25 years".
The player's assurances could be seen as a way of hitting back at critics furious at his departure from Barcelona.
Catalan sports daily Sport on Thursday described the player's entourage as "toxic", blaming them for Neymar's departure.
Sport wrote of "the fatal intersection of two diabolical factors: the money of Qatar (which owns PSG via QSI, its sovereign wealth fund) and the monetary and sporting ambition of the Neymars."
Neymar's father is extremely close to his son, supervising his career and the negotiation of his contracts.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS