Neymar 'agrees' to Barca return

BARCELONA • Neymar is willing to take a €12 million (S$18.5 million) pay cut to leave Paris Saint-Germain as part of a "verbal agreement" reached between him and Barcelona, according to Spanish media reports yesterday.

The Brazil star is reportedly eager to return to Spain and Barcelona are prepared to take him back, with Spanish daily Diario Sport claiming a five-year deal had been agreed and he had told his former teammates to "relax" as he was on his way back.

It added that the terms include:

 • Reducing his annual salary from around €36 million at PSG to the €24 million he was getting at the Nou Camp before leaving in 2017

 • Dropping his €26 million court case claiming the second instalment of a contract renewal "loyalty bonus" before his Paris move, against which the Catalan giants filed a €75 million counter-suit for breach of contract.

 • Making a public apology to the club's supporters for the manner of his departure, according to Barcelona-based daily Mundo Deportivo.

However, the French Ligue 1 champions are yet to sanction the sale of the forward, whom they paid a record €222 million to lure him from the Spanish La Liga giants two years ago. Last week, PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi blasted the player, telling French daily L'Equipe that "nobody forced him to be here".

The 27-year-old, a former fan favourite, spent four years at Barcelona, winning the Champions League in 2015 as well as two La Liga titles and forming a scintillating attacking trio alongside Argentina skipper Lionel Messi and Uruguay's Luis Suarez.

  • €12m 

    Wage cut (S$18.5 million) that Neymar, who earns around €36 million at Paris Saint-Germain, would reportedly swallow should he return to Barcelona.

Any return for Neymar would likely require the Catalans to raise funds through sales.

France forward Antoine Griezmann is expected to join from Atletico Madrid for €120 million, with The Telegraph claiming that the club are waiting for his release clause to kick in next Monday, while Netherlands midfielder Frenkie de Jong has already signed for €75 million from Ajax.

However, his PSG club-mates remain hopeful that Neymar will not jettison France for Spain, with Marquinhos telling L'Equipe he was counting on his compatriot to "continue with us".

The Brazil defender, who is part of the Selecao's squad at the ongoing Copa America tournament, said: "It's difficult to recruit a player like him into your club and it's hard to keep him, but... he's an important player, he's also a friend, a guy I love, and I really hope he'll stay."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 26, 2019, with the headline 'Neymar 'agrees' to Barca return'. Print Edition | Subscribe