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GENEVA – Neymar, fresh from his first win with Paris St. Germain and his world-record signing for the club, became a goodwill ambassador for Handicap International on Tuesday, pledging to work for millions who are “less visible” but deserve equality.

The Brazilian forward, whose 222 million-euro ($259.72 million) signing from Barcelona this month doubled the world- record transit fee, mounted a huge statue of a chair outside the U.N. in Geneva that symbolises landmine victims.

He kicked a soccer ball to fans standing below and into the U.N. grounds. Surrounded by his parents, Neymar Santos Senior and Nadine Santos, he wore a black baseball cap and Handicap International black t-shirt with the inscription “Repair Lives”.

“I would like to begin by thanking you all for what you do for the least visible in the world, so they become more visible.

I have to say that I am very pleased to be here and to be the new ambassador,” the 25-year-old told a news briefing.

“I hope this will be a very successful partnership and that we will be able to help a large number of people,” he said. “Millions want their rights, they want to be treated better. That’s what we are here for and that is what our aim is.”

Neymar, asked what work or field visits he planned, replied:

“Obviously the practical part of this partnership still has to be discussed. I know that my image is very powerful and can help.”

The charity was founded in 1982 to assist 6,000 Cambodian refugees who had lost limbs and later co-founded the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) in 1992 which won the Nobel Peace Prize.

“What people may not realise is that beyond this exceptional sportsman, there is of course a conscience and a voice,” said Manuel Patrouillard, managing director of Handicap International. “A voice which Neymar Jr. decided to put to the service of others, specifically for the most vulnerable, which our organisation works for,” he said. – Reuters

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde is confident his side can cope without Neymar against La Liga champions Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup.

Paris Saint-Germain raided Barcelona for the Brazilian winger earlier in August, leaving the Catalans with 222 million euros (201.6 million pounds) but a gaping hole in their strike force.

Barcelona take on rivals Real on Sunday in the Super Cup first leg with no replacement yet for the Brazilian striker — although media reports have linked them to Borussia Dortmund’s Ousmane Dembele and Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho.

“For Neymar’s absence I have a lot of players who are ready to play,” Valverde told a news conference on Saturday. “You have to look forward, not back.”

The former Athletic Bilbao manager, however, doubts whether Gerard Deulofeu is ready to fill the gap following his recent return from injury.

Barcelona brought Deulofeu back from Everton this summer but he missed the club’s pre-season tour with a reported muscle strain and has featured in only one friendly.

“I like the understanding between Deulofeu with (Jordi) Alba and (Lionel) Messi, but we only have one reference point, the Gamper (trophy) against Chapecoense. It’s very soon,” said Valverde.

Instead the coach might look to Paco Alcacer to play on the left, or change formation from 4-3-3 to 4-4-2 to match Real Madrid, and incorporate an extra midfielder, which could be Sergi Roberto, whom Valverde praised.

Replacing Neymar in the long term is a difficult task, though, and defender Gerard Pique told a news conference of his desperate attempt to get him to stay.

Pique tweeted a picture of himself and Neymar with the caption, “he stays”, little over a week before the Brazilian departed.

“I don’t feel tricked by Neymar. The day I said ‘he stays’ I knew that he was going 100 per cent. It was the final shot,” said Pique.

“He got angry with me but we worked it out. I did it to use my social networks to help this club to keep a player who has a unique talent. It was difficult but I tried to help my club.” – Reuters

SAO PAULO – Paris St Germain’s world-record signing Neymar said on Thursday that his 222 million euros (200 million pounds) move from Barcelona was made against the wishes of his father and agent, Neymar Sr.

He did not expand on the exact nature of their disagreement, but in an Instagram post and video said, for the second time in his life, that he was contradicting his father.

“I formed an attack with (Lionel) Messi and (Luis) Suarez that has gone down in history,” said the Brazilian striker.

“I have won all that a player can win. But a player (me) needs challenges. And for the second time in my life I’ll contradict my father.

“Dad, I understand and respect your opinion but my decision has been taken. I ask that you support me as you always do.”

The 25-year-old has signed a five-year deal with the French side after they triggered the release clause in his Barcelona contract, and said the decision to leave the club he joined in June 2013 was his and his alone.

“I feel in my heart that the time has come for me to leave,” he said.

“It’s a very hard decision but I made it with the maturity I accumulated throughout those 25 years.”

Neymar’s father is one half of their company NN Consultoria and the guiding light behind the money-spinning offshoots that have helped the Brazil striker become one of the world’s highest grossing athletes.

Their commercial and advertising ventures have proven so lucrative that Neymar is sometimes referred to as Neymarketing.

The former Santos player will be presented to PSG fans on Saturday.

Media reports have said he could earn around 550,000 euros per week.

“PSG will be my new home for the next years and I will work to honour all of the trust placed in my football,” he added in the Instagram video.

“I’m counting on the support of all of you who have been with me since 2009.

“Fans, friends, professionals who are with me, and my family who suffered a lot with some problems that took place during that period in my career. Today you deserve peace.” – Reuters

LONDON – Brazil forward Neymar’s world record transfer to Paris St Germain is close to completion after his club Barcelona said on Thursday that the player’s representatives had paid the 222 million euros (200 million pounds) release clause in his contract.

“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,” Barcelona said in a statement on their website. (www.fcbarcelona.com)

“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.” – Reuters

MADRID – Neymar’s record-breaking 222 million euros (198.82 million pounds) transfer from Barcelona to French side Paris Saint-Germain appeared close to completion on Wednesday, when his agent predicted he could be unveiled by the weekend.

Neymar’s team mate Lionel Messi posted a farewell message on social media to the Brazilian, whose agent Wagner Ribeiro was quoted on Spanish radio as saying PSG would pay Barcelona’s asking price and his client was en route to finalise the deal.

“They (PSG) are going to pay Neymar’s (222 million euros buyout) clause today so that he can be presented at the weekend,” Ribeiro told Spanish radio station Cadena COPE. “They (Neymar and his father) are in the air now.”

The move would complete a hectic few days in which Neymar’s heavily trailed exit has inched closer.

Events moved swiftly on Wednesday when Barcelona released a statement announcing that the 25-year-old had informed them of his intention to leave, and confirming the amount of his buy-out clause.

“The player Neymar Jr, accompanied by his father and agent, has informed FC Barcelona this morning of his decision to leave the club in a meeting held at the club’s offices,” Barcelona said in a statement.

“The club refer to the buy-out clause of his existing contract which as of 1 July totals 222 million euros.”

Earlier the 25-year-old arrived at the club’s training ground to tell team mates he was moving to Paris, Catalan radio RAC1 reported.

The Brazilian striker left the training area minutes later, it said, with the club confirming on Twitter that he had been given permission not to train.

Neymar’s departure would end a four-year stay at the club, where he formed a formidable strike force with Messi and Luis Suarez.

Messi reacted to his team-mate’s imminent move by posting on his Instagram account: “It was a great pleasure to have shared all these years with you, my friend @naymarjr. I wish you much luck in this new stage of your life. Be seeing you.”

In October, Neymar signed a new contract until 2021 with the buy-out clause raised.

For a while it seemed that the deal might stall over concerns about Financial Fair Play.

In an interview published on Wednesday, the president of the national football league, Javier Tebas, said the league would not accept payment by PSG to trigger the release clause. It would potentially be in breach of UEFA Financial Fair Play rules, he told Spanish sports newspaper AS.

However, UEFA told Reuters on Wednesday that no complaint had been received, adding that European football’s governing body would not block any potential deal in advance.

“UEFA will look into the details of this transfer in due course to ensure PSG are compliant with FFP requirements,” the UEFA statement said.

“The transfer of Neymar to PSG will have an effect on the club finances over several years but the impact of such an operation cannot be judged in advance, notably as PSG could well sell several players for a significant amount.

“We shall therefore only make calculations at the end and make sure that they respect the rules.”

PSG are one of the world’s richest clubs following their 2012 takeover by Qatar Sports Investments, an arm of Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund, which has transformed their fortunes.

Under the fair play rules – which Uefa’s FFP project leader Andrea Traverso was last week quoted by Italian newspaper Gazetta dello Sport as saying PSG were currently following – a club’s wage bill must not exceed 70 percent of its revenue.

PSG’s 2015/16 revenue came to 521 million euros, according to Deloitte’s Football Money League report issued in January.

550,000 EUROS A WEEK?

Media sources across Europe reported that Neymar is negotiating a potential six-year deal worth more than 550,000 euros a week. The striker only arrived back in Spain on Tuesday after trips to China and the Middle East.

Neymar has been active on social media, sharing an excerpt from the New Testament (Philippians 4:11) on Instagram which said “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learnt to be content whatever the circumstances.

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learnt the secret of being content …whether living in plenty or in want.”

A PSG spokesman declined to comment.

Neymar signed for Barcelona from Brazilian side Santos for 57.1 million euros in 2013, although it was later revealed the cost was closer to 100 million euros. – Reuters

 

SAO PAULO – Barcelona striker Neymar has been cleared of any criminal charges in a long-running tax evasion case in Brazil, a Brazilian court said on Wednesday.

A judge in Sao Paulo said there was a “lack of just cause” in the case that alleged he underpaid income tax between 2011 and 2014.

Neymar’s father and agent said Wednesday’s decision was a major victory.

“It is with great happiness that we received the news of the shelving of the Public Ministry’s case of tax evasion,” Neymar Snr. said in a statement sent to Reuters.

“The process is officially closed (and) that proves the legality of all our acts.”

Neymar could still, however, have to pay substantial sums to Brazil’s tax office.

Brazil’s federal tax office charged Neymar in 2015 with evading R$63 million (RM85 million) in taxes due on income earned from the Santos and Barcelona soccer clubs and sponsors between 2011 and 2014.

Neymar appealed last year and a court ruling in his favour in March halved the penalty of R$200 million in fines, back-taxes and interest that Brazil’s tax office had slapped on the player.

This was separate to the criminal prosecution brought by federal prosecutors, which has now been shelved.

“These were four years of unfounded accusations that me, my family and the employees of my companies suffered through, in every possible way,” Neymar’s father said in his statement.

“Although many people doubted it, there is justice in our country. Charge by charge, one after the other, they were knocked down by our defence, leaving it explicitly clear that we did not avoid paying one cent of tax.

“I hope we can now concentrate on our work and that my family has the peace it deserves.”

Neymar’s future on the pitch is the subject of speculation, with the player linked in Spanish, French and Brazilian media with a transfer to Paris St Germain.

Neymar, an idol in Brazil who led the Olympic team to glory at the 2016 Rio Games, said last week he was happy at Barcelona but he has yet to state definitively where he will play next season.

Widely considered the outstanding player of his generation in Brazil, Neymar led Santos to the Libertadores Cup for the first time since Pele played for the club.

He then moved to Barcelona in 2013 where he has formed one of the most deadly forward lines in football alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

He is currently on a pre-season tour with Barcelona, where he has won two La Liga titles and a Champions League, in the United States and is expected to play in Wednesday’s match against Manchester United in Maryland. — Reuters

RIO DE JANEIRO – Barcelona forward Neymar has been the best player in the
world so far in 2017, according to Brazil national coach Tite, China’s
Xinhua news agency reported.

But it is too early to say whether the 25-year-old will surpass Lionel
Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo when votes are cast for the year’s top individual
honors, the former Corinthians boss said.

“Neymar is in the best form of his career, but to compare him with
Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi isn’t fair,” Tite told Radio Bandeirantes on Friday.

“They are different generations. In the past 10 years he isn’t (the world’s
best). In my opinion the best in the world has been Messi. But in the past four
months the best in the world has been Neymar,” Tite added.

After a quiet start to the 2016-17 season, Neymar has been in sublime form
for both club and country since the turn of the year.

The high point was his performance in the UEFA Champions League round of 16
last month, when the Brazilian almost single-handedly gave Barcelona a 6-5
aggregate victory with two goals and assist in the last five minutes of the
second leg at the Camp Nou.

Neymar also scored in Brazil’s victories over Uruguay and Paraguay last
month as the Selecao became the first team to qualify for next year’s World Cup.
— BERNAMA

Accessories:

NEYMAR hit a hat-trick and Lionel Messi scored twice as Barcelona enjoyed a resounding 6-0 victory over Granada to continue to set the pace at the top of La Liga.

Barça got back on track with the perfect response after they drew 0-0 at Málaga on Wednesday without a shot on target and they now have 16 points from six games.

Neymar broke Granada’s stubborn resistance with a scrappy goal midway through the first half when his shot hit Jean-Sylvain Babin and looped over the goalkeeper Roberto Fernández.

Then in the run up to half-time Granada’s concentration slipped as Ivan Rakitic headed home a Messi cross and Neymar got his second. Fernández reached a Messi pass just ahead of Munir El Haddadi but he could only push the ball towards Neymar who knocked it into an open net.

A fine move led to Dani Alves volleying a cross for Messi to head home the fourth after 65 minutes and then Neymar was on target again as he confidently picked his spot in the corner four minutes later to complete his treble.

For his second Messi stole the ball off Jeison Murillo and then slotted past the keeper. It was his 400th goal overall with 358 for Barça and 42 for Argentina.

“We knew the game against Málaga was going to be difficult the same as against Granada but here we have been patient and shown better movement,” Rakitic said. “We had to work hard. The fact that we haven’t conceded a goal yet is not a coincidence but due to the effort we are putting in.” – The Independent