Europe (UEFA)

Neymar "cried more than once" before Barcelona exit, leaked documents show

mirror.co.uk, 23 September 2022, 07:35
Neymar joined Paris Saint-Germain from Barcelona in the summer of 2017 for a world record £198million transfer fee with documents in the build-up to the deal now leaked Neymar joined Paris Saint-Germain for a world record £198million fee in 2017

Neymar was made to "cry more than once" by Barcelona's former Director of Football Raul Sanllehi before leaving the club for Paris Saint-Germain, leaked documents reveal.

The Brazilian superstar joined the French club in the summer of 2017 for a world record transfer fee of €222million (£198m) - a sum that has yet to be surpassed in the five years since. It was a stunning move that helped shift the landscape of European football.

Barca were powerless to prevent their star forward from leaving the club as PSG triggered his release clause at the Camp Nou. It was a show of strength from the French club, who flexed their financial muscles and underlined their ambitions to become the best team in world football.

Raul Sanllehi, Barca's Director of Football at the time, was the voice of the Catalan club in the negotiation process with Neymar and his father, who also acted as his agent. Barca were desperate for the player to stay, but his camp were becoming infuriated with the club.

The details of the email conversations have been leaked by El Mundo, which outlines how Sanllehi indicated to the club that Neymar's father was furious with Barcelona for revealing Neymar's signing-on bonus, which amounted to €64.4m (£56.3m). This clause had become a bone of contention between the two parties.

Sanllehi - who later took up a similar role at Arsenal - communicated to the club in what appears to be an attempt to smooth relations: "I have been with this man for hours and hours and I think I know him well enough to know when he is bluffing and when he is telling the truth. In this case, I am absolutely convinced, he has shown me, that he is on our side."

Have Your Say! Did Neymar make a mistake by leaving Barcelona in 2017? Tell us what you think here.

Sanllehi went on to communicate how he believed Neymar had "many personal problems" at the time and that he had warned him that his best option was to stay at the club, rather than "running away" from the issue, while claiming that he had made the Brazilian cry more than once.

The email correspondence continued: "I have told you all separately that the problem, in this case, was the player's head. The boy is in a bad way, he has many personal problems, and he is very confused and very vulnerable. So he has mistakenly thought that by running away from Barcelona he will also run away from his problems (when really what he should do is face them and not leave). I have spoken directly with him, repeatedly. I have made him cry more than once, and he has admitted to me on more than one occasion that he was lost."

Neymar's father took aim at the club when his son's signing-on figure was a bonus, writing: "I don't trust you, you have repeatedly deceived me." He then demanded that the fee be immediately paid, which it was not, and Neymar subsequently joined PSG that summer.

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