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EDITOR IN CHIEF- ABDULLAH BIN SALIM AL SHUEILI

Neymar joins Saudi club Al Hilal in two-year deal

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RIYADH: Neymar has signed a two-year contract at Saudi Arabia's Al Hilal after six years with Paris St Germain in which the Brazil forward won several domestic trophies but not the Champions League the club craves.


No financial details were disclosed on Tuesday but the fee was reported to be about 90 million euros ($98.24 million) plus add-ons and subject to a medical for the 31-year-old.


French newspaper L'Equipe said the deal could net Neymar 160 million euros.


Saudi Professional League (SPL) club Al Hilal announced that Neymar had signed a contract until 2025, with the Brazilian saying, "I am here in Saudi Arabia, I am Hilali" in a video on the team's social media accounts.


"I have achieved a lot in Europe and enjoyed special times, but I have always wanted to be a global player and test myself with new challenges and opportunities in new places," Neymar said after signing the contract on Tuesday in Paris.


"I want to write new sporting history, and the Saudi Pro League has tremendous energy and quality players at the moment.


"I have heard a lot and learned that I am following a long list of Brazilian players who have played in Saudi Arabia over the years, so I believe it is the desired place.


"I love winning and scoring goals, and I plan to continue doing that in Saudi Arabia and with Al Hilal."


RECORD FEE


Neymar joined PSG in 2017 from Barcelona for a world record fee of 222 million euros. He scored 118 goals in 173 appearances for the Paris club and won numerous trophies, including five Ligue 1 titles.


Neymar won the Champions League with Barcelona in 2015 but had to settle for a runners-up medal in the 2020 final, which PSG lost to Bayern Munich.


"It is inevitably difficult to say goodbye to a club legend, which Neymar will always be," PSG president Nasser al Khelaifi said in a club statement.


"I will never forget the day he arrived at Paris Saint-Germain, nor what he has brought to our club and our project over the last six years.


"We've had some extraordinary moments and Neymar will always be part of our history. I would like to thank him and his family."


Neymar has also played 124 times for Brazil, scoring 77 goals - a joint-record alongside three-time World Cup winner Pele. He was part of the Brazil team which won the Confederations Cup in 2013.


SAUDI TRANSFERS


The most successful club in Saudi Arabia and Asia, Al Hilal have won 66 trophies and hold the record for number of league and Asian Champions League titles with 18 and four respectively.


Strengthening the squad is a priority for the Riyadh-based club after the Saudi Public Investment Fund announced in June an investment and privatisation project for sports clubs involving league champions Al Ittihad, Al Ahli, Al Nassr and Al Hilal.


The Saudi Pro League season kicked off on Friday after spending close to half a billion dollars luring a host of top players and coaches from European sides.


Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo joined Al Nassr last season soon after the Qatar World Cup in a deal which made him the highest-paid athlete on the planet, while Al Ittihad signed French striker Karim Benzema from Real Madrid.


Uefa Champions League winners Riyad Mahrez, Edouard Mendy and Roberto Firmino have all signed for Al Ahli.


Al Hilal also tried to sign Neymar's former team-mates France striker Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi, but the Argentine eventually opted for Major League Soccer's Inter Miami. -- Reuters


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