The world-record transfer of Neymar from Barcelona to Paris St Germain has hit a snag after La Liga refused to accept the release clause for the striker.
Barcelona said they would only allow the 25-year-old to make the staggering switch if his buy-out clause of €222million (£198.5million) was met and paid in full.
But as we reported yesterday there is a hitch in the deal, because lawyers for the player were turned away on Thursday morning when they arrived at the offices of La Liga to pay the money required.
“We can confirm that the player’s lawyers came to the La Liga offices this morning to deposit the clause and that it has been rejected. That’s all the information we are giving out at this moment,” a statement from LaLiga read.
It now remains to be seen what the next step in this most astronomical of transfers will be, with a league body intervening almost unheard of.
Despite needing to post the record amount in full, PSG are reportedly unfazed by such a demand after Neymar indicated his willingness to depart the Nou Camp on Wednesday.
Reports in France had suggested a five-year contract to bring Neymar to Ligue 1 could be finalised this week, and French newspaper Le Parisien claimed the 25-year-old is set to earn 30 million euros (£27million) net per year, or close to €600,000 (£540,000) each week after tax.
The eye-watering fee alone would obliterate the current record of €105m, worth £89million at the time, which Manchester United paid Juventus for Paul Pogba last summer.
The blockbuster transfer of the summer that once looked fanciful now appears set to come to fruition, with Neymar’s Barcelona team-mate Lionel Messi even wishing his colleague good luck on social media.
Barcelona had confirmed Neymar’s desire to depart in a statement on Wednesday which read: “Neymar Jr, accompanied by his father and agent, has informed FC Barcelona this morning (Wednesday) of his decision to leave the club in a meeting held at the club’s offices.
“Faced with this position, the club has informed them they refer to the buy-out clause of his existing contract which as of 1 July totals 222 million euros, which will have to be deposited in its entirety.”
The statement added: “The player remains under contract at FC Barcelona but with temporary permission to not take part in training sessions.”
Neymar, 25, has scored more than 100 goals in four years with the LaLiga club and has a deal that runs until 2021.
At the Nou Camp he formed the fabled MSN strike partnership along with Messi and Luis Suarez that delivered a treble of league, cup and Champions League in the 2014-15 season.
Messi posted a message on his Instagram account on Wednesday with a series of images of him and Neymar, alongside the caption: “It was an enormous pleasure to have shared all these years with you friend @neymarjr I wish you good luck in this new stage of your life.”
Neymar later responded with the comment: “Thank you brother…I will miss you uncle!”
The sheer scale of the transfer has led to suggestions Barcelona could make a complaint to UEFA regarding Financial Fair Play regulations, and whether PSG are adhering to the rules. UEFA has yet to receive a complaint.
Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho said on Wednesday night that he did not think Neymar was an expensive purchase.
The Portuguese said: “For £200million I don’t think he is expensive. I think he is expensive (in) the fact that now you are going to have more players at £100million, you are going to have more players at £80million and more players at £60million. I think that’s the problem.
“Neymar is one of the best players in the world, commercially he is very strong and for sure Paris St Germain thought about it. So I think the problem is not Neymar, I think the problem is the consequences of Neymar.”