MADRID • Neymar's world record-breaking €222 million (S$357 million) transfer to French football club Paris Saint-Germain moved a step closer yesterday when Barca announced that the forward had informed them of his intention to exit the Nou Camp.
"The player Neymar Jr, accompanied by his father and agent, has informed FC Barcelona this morning of his decision to leave the club in a meeting held at the club's offices," Barcelona said in a statement.
"The club refer to the buy-out clause of his existing contract which as of July 1 totals €222 million."
Earlier yesterday, the 25-year-old arrived at the club's training ground to tell team-mates he was moving to Paris, Catalan radio RAC1 reported.
The Brazilian left the training area minutes later, with the club confirming on Twitter that he had been given permission not to train.
In October, Neymar signed a new Barcelona contract until 2021 in which his buy-out clause was raised to more than double the biggest transfer fee in football history - currently held by Paul Pogba's £89 million (S$159 million) move to Manchester United from Juventus.
In an interview published yesterday, the president of LaLiga, Javier Tebas, said the league would not accept payment by PSG to trigger the release clause.
It would potentially be in breach of Uefa Financial Fair Play rules, he told Spanish sports newspaper AS.
However, Uefa told Reuters yesterday that no complaint had been received, adding that European football's governing body would not block any potential deal in advance.
"Uefa will look into the details of this transfer in due course to ensure PSG are compliant with FFP requirements," the Uefa statement said.
"The transfer of Neymar to PSG will have an effect on the club finances over several years, but the impact of such an operation cannot be judged in advance, notably as PSG could well sell several players for a significant amount.
"We shall therefore only make calculations at the end and make sure that they respect the rules."
PSG are one of the world's richest clubs following their 2012 takeover by Qatar Sports Investments, an arm of Qatar's sovereign wealth fund.
Under the fair play rules, a club's wage bill must not exceed 70 per cent of its revenue. PSG's 2015-16 revenue came to €521 million, according to Deloitte's Football Money League report in January.
The deal is also believed to have been delayed until after Aug 1 so that Neymar Sr earned a £23 million bonus from Barcelona for his part in convincing his son to sign a new contract last October.
If the player had left before Tuesday, then the bonus, which was agreed exactly a year ago, would have been null and void.
Barcelona, however, insisted that the money has been deposited with a notary, and will not be paid should the player leave less than 12 months after renewing his contract.
Media sources across Europe reported that Neymar will now head to Paris to continue negotiations on a potential six-year deal worth more than €550,000 a week.
The transfer could be completed by the end of the week, Neymar's agent Wagner Ribeiro said.
Prising Neymar from the grip of Barcelona would truly announce PSG's presence as a contender for the Champions League next season.
What this also means is that Barcelona are losing an arm of their "MSN" strikeforce - Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar - who have scored a massive 250 league goals in total in the past three seasons.
And besides the loss of Neymar's goals (59), Barcelona will also be missing his contributions to goals scored by his strike partners.
Out of Messi's 106 goals in the last three LaLiga campaigns, 100 of those came from chances created by Neymar, while the Brazilian played a part in 49 of Suarez's 85 goals.
Messi responded to Neymar's impending departure in an Instagram post yesterday, with the caption: "It was an enormous pleasure to have shared all these years with you Neymar. I wish you luck in this new stage of your life."
Barcelona will now need to find a replacement, and will certainly conjure up a renewed bid for a like-for-like Brazilian forward in Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho.
British media have reported that the Spanish giants are preparing a £107 million bid, after their £72 million offer was rejected previously.
Coutinho has scored 26 league goals in the last three seasons for the Reds, a figure that cannot be compared to Neymar.
But Barcelona are said to be pursuing him because he is effective drifting in from the left flank and boasts no small acumen of samba flair - just like Neymar.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS, THE TIMES, LONDON