Neymar’s world-record transfer to Paris Saint-Germain moved a step closer Thursday after Barcelona confirmed it had received a $263 million payment from the Brazilian to buy out his contract.
In a short statement, Barcelona also announced it would be passing details of the deal to European soccer’s governing body UEFA amid accusations that PSG is in breach of financial regulations.
“On Thursday afternoon Neymar Jr.’s legal representatives visited in person the Club’s offices and made the payment of 222 million euros in the player’s name with regards to the unilateral termination of the contract that united both parties.
“As such, the club will pass on to UEFA the details of the above operation so that they can determine the disciplinary responsibilities that may arise from this case.”
The Brazil star is set to leave Barcelona — with the Catalan club confirming Wednesday that Neymar had informed it of his intention to move away from Camp Nou. The move appeared to have hit a snag earlier Thursday after Spain’s La Liga refused to accept the world record $263 million fee that would facilitate his move to the French club.
La Liga — Spain’s top division — raised concerns that PSG was contravening Financial Fair Play (FFP), regulations put in place by UEFA to prevent overspending by soccer clubs.
In Spain, a player has to buy himself out of his contract. The funds are then deposited with La Liga to trigger the release clause in the player’s contract before being transferred to the selling club.
And in a statement published Thursday, La Liga said: “We can confirm that the lawyers of the player (Neymar) have come to La Liga to deposit the clause and that it has been rejected. It is all the information we will give so far.”
In response, the LFP, which is responsible for France’s Ligue 1, said it was “in support and at the disposal of Paris Saint-Germain so that the Neymar contract is approved as soon as possible.”
It also urged the Spanish league “to stick to FIFA’s rules and its responsibilities.”
Neither Barcelona or PSG has responded to CNN’s request for comment.
According to UEFA rules, clubs can be punished if they incur a losses in excess of €30 million ($35.5 million) over a three-year period.
PSG was fined €60 million ($71 million) and had its Champions League squad limited by UEFA after failing to meet FFP criteria in 2014.
Since arriving from Brazilian club Santos in 2013, Neymar has scored over 100 goals for Barcelona, winning the European Champions League, two La Liga titles and three Copa del Rey.
The 25-year-old was part of the world football’s most potent attacking triumvirate alongside five-time world player of the year Lionel Messi, and Uruguay star Luis Suarez.
He has also scored 52 goals in 77 appearances for Brazil as well as winning Olympic gold at last year’s Rio Games.
Marcelo Bechler, the Brazilian journalist who first reported the expected transfer back in July, told CNN that Neymar’s decision came out of his desire to one day be crowned the world’s best footballer.
“Neymar thinks he can be the best player in the world,” Bechler said. “And it cannot happen if he plays with (Lionel) Messi.
“They are friends but Neymar can’t play with Messi and be the best player in the world, so that’s why he’s made the decision to leave Barcelona.”
Neymar’s expected departure comes just a week after club officials said the player would “200%” be staying.
His move to Barcelona would become the most expensive in the history of the sport, dwarfing the $120 million Manchester United paid Juventus for Paul Pogba in August 2016.