Neymar tells Barcelona teammates he is leaving club amid PSG rumours
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Neymar's world record move to Paris Saint-Germain moved a step closer on Wednesday as the Brazilian star informed his Barcelona teammates he is leaving the club.
The Catalan club said the Brazil striker told his teammates Wednesday "that he had the intention of leaving the club and seeking his future elsewhere, and the coach has given him permission to leave training".
It said Neymar left the training ground 30 minutes after arriving. He had only just returned to Spain after holding publicity events for both his personal brand and his club in China.
Barcelona said Neymar did not specify where he wants to play next, but Qatari-owned PSG are the only club speculated to be after him -- and one of few that could handle the cost of the transfer.
PSG are rumored to be ready to pay his release clause of 222 million euros ($262 million). That would dwarf the 105 million euros (then $116 million) that Manchester United paid for France midfielder Paul Pogba last year.
Last year, Neymar signed a new contract with Barcelona that tied him to the Catalan club through 2021.
Both Barcelona club president Josep Bartomeu and Spanish league president Javier Tebas have said they will consider filing a complaint to UEFA if they think the PSG transfer violates financial fair play rules.
Gems and headaches
With his lightning-quick feet, creative instincts and scoring touch, Neymar helped maintain Barcelona as one of the top clubs in Europe for the past four seasons as he blossomed into a worldwide star.
Neymar scored 105 goals -- some of them true gems -- and was a key playmaker for Barcelona as it won a Champions League, two Spanish leagues, three Copa del Reys, one Club World Cup, a UEFA Super Cup and two Spanish Super Cups.
Neymar Jr hasn't trained on Wednesday with the permission of the coach #FCBlive— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) 2 août 2017
Yet, even before this drawn-out saga, Neymar also provided more than one headache for his club.
His transfer from Brazilian club Santos in 2013 became the source of a legal dispute that has dogged Barcelona even since. Barcelona said at the time that his transfer cost 57 million euros, while an investigative judge says that the real cost was at least 83.3 million euros.
Now Bartomeu and predecessor Sandro Rosell, who resigned as president of the club amid the transfer scandal, are facing trial on charges of fraudulent administration.
Neymar has also mixed his flair for fancy goals with bouts of immaturity on the field, often needlessly taunting defenders and trying to upstage them with his dribbling skills.
But nobody doubts Neymar is one of the greatest talents of his generation.
PSG saw it first-hand in last season's Champions League. In his most memorable performance at Camp Nou, Neymar scored two goals and set up two more to lead Barcelona to a 6-1 rout to overturn PSG's 4-0 first-leg win in the last 16.
Unless PSG gets last-second jitters, Neymar will take over a team that is searching for a leader who can achieve elusive Champions League success.
(FRANCE 24 with AP, REUTERS)