PSG’s Neymar shifts gears, heads to Saudi’s Al Hilal
Neymar, Brazil’s iconic forward, is now set for a move to Saudi Arabia. The nation’s top Pro League team, Al Hilal, has clinched a two-year deal with the superstar’s current club, Paris St Germain, as Saudi media sources confirmed on Monday. According to insiders familiar with the transfer, Neymar underwent a medical examination in Paris this Monday. He is slated to touch down in Riyadh by Wednesday. Upon his arrival, a grand presentation awaits him at King Fahd Stadium, as per Reuters.
Portuguese coach Jorge Jesus leads Al Hilal, and they are prepping for their match against Al Fayha this Saturday. Fans eagerly await, with Neymar anticipated to don the number 10 jersey. Having shifted to PSG from Barcelona in 2017 for a whopping 222 million euros ($243 million) – setting a world record for transfer fees – Neymar did not feature in PSG’s season opener against Lorient this Saturday due to a viral ailment.
Although Neymar’s contract with PSG was valid till 2025, his contribution of 118 goals in 173 appearances and his role in winning five Ligue 1 titles did not cement his place in coach Luis Enrique’s plans. Rumors suggest Neymar yearned for a return to Barcelona through a loan deal. However, financial constraints at the Spanish club thwarted such ambitions.
Interestingly, Al Hilal had earlier shown interest in PSG’s Kylian Mbappe and even Lionel Messi, now with MLS’s Inter Miami. Al Hilal’s illustrious history includes a record 66 trophies, boasting 18 league titles and four Asian Champions League victories. The recent strategic focus for Al Hilal and other Saudi clubs, bolstered by the Saudi Public Investment Fund’s announcements in June, is to fortify their squads.
After an investment of nearly half a billion dollars, the Saudi Pro League launched its new season with a flourish. This investment strategy had previously enabled Al Nassr to bag Cristiano Ronaldo post-World Cup, making him the globe’s top-earning athlete, and Al Ittihad to snag Karim Benzema from Real Madrid. Champions League victors like Riyad Mahrez, Edouard Mendy, and Roberto Firmino have joined Al Ahli’s roster.