Neymar has revealed Cristiano Ronaldo influenced his move to Saudi Arabia as he completes a shock summer switch to Al Hilal.
Futballnews understands Neymar did not ask to leave PSG as reported by various outlets. The Brazil international was eager to see off his remaining two years contract with PSG. He joined the club’s preseason tour and was ready to start the new season with the club.
While PSG lost Lionel Messi this summer and were also on the verge of losing Kylian Mbappe, Neymar, who was an integral part of the deadly attacking trio of Messi and Mbappe, was relishing pleasant moments in PSG training session, especially his new found bromance with Lee Kang-in.
Hence, PSG decision to axe Neymar from the squad came more as a surprise than a given. Neymar’s representatives reportedly agreed to an exit solution for Neymar after PSG confirmed their decision to remove him from the squad, dropping him off the club’s 2023/24 opening French Ligue 1 clash against Lorient.
Neymar joins Al Hilal
Neymar’s PSG exit is one of the most shocking transfer saga this summer. The 31-year-old made the list of high-profile players leaving European league to the Saudi Pro League, joining the latest new arrivals like Roberto Firmino, Jordan Henderson, Fabinho, Sadio Mane, and Alex Telles.
In his first official press interview after joining the club, Neymar revealed Cristiano Ronaldo influenced his decision to join the Saudi Pro League after the Manchester United legend made a shock move to the Saudi Pro League last summer.
According to him, since Cristiano Ronaldo joined the Saudi elite division, the league has witnessed spurts of rapid growth, attracting the finest legs from European football and becoming more competitive.
“I believe Cristiano Ronaldo started all of this and everybody called him ‘crazy,’ and this and that,” Neymar said. “Today you see the league grow more and more.
“The league will be very competitive, especially after the signings made in the summer transfer window. I believe competitiveness is important. That’s why I am joining this league. I am driven by challenges. I am there to help the league grow.”
Neymar added he is excited and happy to open a new chapter in his career and will be looking forward for a great season with Al Hilal.
“I am very excited to write a new story chasing all the objectives with the club and my teammates — winning more and more titles and fulfilling the club’s ambition. I am very excited in that regard.”
Neymar’s take on Cristiano Ronaldo’s influence may be disputed in some quarters following reports he made some extravagant demands from Al Hilal before reaching agreement to join the club. However, it is pretty obvious Saudi Arabia has established a bold presence on the global map of football with its expanding and growing league.
Since Cristiano Ronaldo joined Al Nassr, the Saudi Pro League has witnessed an unprecedented influx of big-name players who wrote the scripts of the game in Europe.
This summer has been the craziest era in the history of the Saudi Pro League with previous European heavyweights such as Karim Benzema, N’Golo, Riyad Mahrez, Roberto Firmino and Jordan Henderson making the list of elite players who have joined the Saudi Pro League.
So far, 30 players cutting across top leagues in Europe have thronged into the oil-rich region with over €600m expended on transfer deals.
Neymar is already giddy of joining the competition and rubbing shoulders with other big name players that have moved to the Saudi Pro League.
“It is exciting, meeting top-quality players on the other teams thrills you, and motivates you to play even better,” Neymar said. “And it is a given when you face Ronaldo, Benzema, Firmino, that the excitement is even greater.
“So I am happy to join this league, facing them will be wonderful, it will be fantastic. Of course a lot of Brazil will be watching the league. Obviously I will be there and I expect all Brazilians and everybody following the league to support Al Hilal.
“The message I have for them is I will do my best to make them enjoy football, our goal is winning all titles.”
The signing of Neymar will further elevate the profile of the Saudi Pro League. The Brazil winger joins Al Hilal for $98.6m, signing a two-year contract worth $100m every year.