BUSAN, SOUTH KOREA - AUGUST 03: Neymar Jr of Paris Saint-Germain in action during the preseason friendly between Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors and Paris Saint-Germain at Busan Asiad Stadium on August 03, 2023 in Busan, South Korea.
Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Paris Saint-Germain Football/PSG via Getty Images

Neymar Leaving PSG with Shocking Move to New Club

PSG superstar Neymar is leaving Ligue 1 for an opportunity in the upstart Saudi Pro League, shaking things up in the football world.

The Saudi Pro League has been grabbing headlines across the sporting world by snapping up some of the biggest names in football, and Neymar is the next soccer star to join the upstart league.

Enticing players with big-money opportunities, the Saudi Pro League has claimed one of the biggest stars of an era in perhaps its biggest move yet. Neymar Jr. is heading to Al-Hilal, a club that finished in third place a year ago. He is expected to earn somewhere in the neighborhood of $200 million a year across a two-year contract, making this deal pretty similar to the one Cristiano Ronaldo signed when he started the chain reaction back at the end of 2022.

The move, which is said to include a transfer fee of just under 100 million euros, is a bit different from most of the others we've seen in this wave of pros moving to Saudi Arabia. Many of the players who have made the move have been veterans who have had an excellent career but are past their prime, with players including Kalidou Koulibaly and Ronaldo headlining this category. Other players, such as Edouard Mendy, Roberto Firmino, and Franck Kessié, have switched over to the Saudi League with plenty left in the tank but following a poor season or perhaps experiencing a reduction in playing time at their club.

Neymar is just 31 years old and has limited time left as one of the truly elite players in the world, but he is still in that upper echelon of players as of now. He could start for basically any club in Europe but has decided to move to the Middle East, a huge win for the Saudis in their quest to secure top-end footballing talent. Another notable exception is 26-year-old midfielder Rúben Neves, who is still in the prime of his career but has never really been as big of a star as most of the players who have transferred to the Saudi League. He will be Neymar's teammate on Al-Hilal, which will compete in the AFC Champions League this season.

This move also punctuates another concerning chapter in the story of Paris Saint-Germain, which seemed to be on the verge of greatness not long ago but as seen things fall apart in a big way over the past year or so. It came within inches of glory in the 2020 Champions League Final; and in the summer of 2021, it made huge moves to bring in the likes of Gianluigi Donnarumma and, the biggest name of all, Lionel Messi himself. Since then, it has been knocked out in the UCL round of 16 twice, Messi has headed off to the United States, and Kylian Mbappé is looking to leave the club. Now, Neymar has become the next domino to fall, failing to deliver a European title after the team made enormous waves by spending a record 222 million euros on his transfer back in 2017

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