Brazil star Neymar is set to become the latest marquee footballer to move to Saudi Arabia, with the Paris Saint-Germain forward close to a hugely lucrative transfer to Al Hilal.
Neymar, 31, has agreed personal terms to join the Saudi Pro League club this week, where he will sign a two-year contract.
The Brazilian, already the world’s most expensive player, was having a medical in Paris on Monday ahead of travelling to Riyadh. The reported transfer fee is €90 million ($98.5m)
Hilal, record 18-time Saudi champions, open their 2023/24 Saudi Pro League campaign on Monday, away to Abha.
Should it go through as expected, the signing of Neymar would represent yet another coup for the Saudi Pro League, which has already this summer attracted the likes of current Ballon d’Or holder Karim Benzema, Riyad Mahrez, N’Golo Kante, Roberto Firmino and Jordan Henderson.
Meanwhile, Cristiano Ronaldo signed for Al Nassr in December.
Michael Emenalo, the league’s director of football who oversees the acquisition of international stars, told journalists in Jeddah on Saturday that Saudi aimed to have “all the top players” competing there in the next few years.
Emenalo also confirmed that he expected more business to be done by the end of the transfer window, on September 7.
The addition of Neymar at Hilal compares particularly to Ronaldo and Benzema, with the Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) player one of the most recognisable names in football.
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Neymar, whose contract with PSG runs until 2025, signed with the French champions for a world-record €222m in 2017. He has since won Ligue 1 five times, while also finishing runner-up in the 2019/20 Uefa Champions League.
Neymar is Brazil’s joint-top leading goalscorer, alongside Pele, with 77 goals in 124 appearances.
Neymar had been linked heavily with a return to Barcelona, whom he represented from 2013-2017, winning the Champions League and two La Liga titles.
He sat out PSG’s Ligue 1 season-opening 0-0 draw with Lorient on Saturday having trained alone the previous day. The capital club said it was because he was recovering from a viral infection.
Neymar’s time at the Parc des Princes has been dogged recently by injury. He underwent surgery on his ankle in March, returning to meet up with the PSG squad on their recent pre-season tour of Asia.
At Hilal, Neymar would join fellow summer signings Ruben Neves, Kalidou Koulibaly, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Malcom. Hilal have also been credited with serious interest in Marco Verratti, Neymar’s teammate at PSG, and Fulham striker Aleksandar Mitrovic.