Neymar Jr. reportedly dreamed of returning to Barcelona six years after leaving them for Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) in a record €222 million deal.
The Brazilian superstar has joined Al-Hilal on a two-year deal, where he will be paid up to $400 million over the course of his stay — a world-record amount. According to Fabrizio Romano, his priority has been to return to Barca for a long time.
But Neymar apparently made it clear that he did not want to return to Spotify Camp Nou until Xavi Hernandez is the manager. Reports have suggested that the Spanish tactician wasn’t open to having him in his squad either.
The two played together at the Blaugrana club for two seasons before the Spaniard’s move to Al-Sadd in 2015. Neymar, meanwhile, will be joining Malcom, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Kalidou Koulibaly and Ruben Neves as Al-Hilal’s star signings this summer.
The former Barcelona superstar has so far failed to live up to the massive expectations fans placed on him a decade ago. His numbers at PSG were brilliant, considering he recorded 118 goals and 77 assists in 173 games.
But injuries hampered Neymar from fully realizing his potential. Many expected that he would have a Ballon d’Or trophy by now but he has never finished above third in the standings of arguably football’s most prestigious individual award.
Former Barcelona superstar Neymar could make Al-Hilal debut within days after PSG exit – reports
According to GE Globo (h/t @liberta___depre on X), Neymar will be presented at the King Fahd International Stadium on 19 August before Al-Hilal’s league game against Al-Feiha.
The stadium is expected to be at full capacity, with 70,000 fans expected to witness Neymar’s official unveiling on the pitch. He is expected to make his debut in the game later on.
Al-Hilal lost the Arab Club Champions Cup to Al-Nassr on 12 August but won their Saudi Pro League opener two days later (2-0) against Abha. They have won the league title five times since the start of the 2016-17 season.
But they lost the league to Al-Ittihad last term, finishing 13 points behind the leaders in third place. Neymar will hope he can lead his team to a 19th league title — which will be 10 more than the next most successful team in the competition.