Brazil superstar Neymar has signed for Al Hilal from Paris Saint-Germain in one of the most high-profile transfers in Saudi Arabian football history.
The forward, his country’s all-time joint-leading goalscorer alongside Pele, was confirmed as Hilal’s latest recruit on Tuesday night having agreed to the move from PSG.
Neymar, who joins on a two-year contract, was presented at a signing ceremony in Paris alongside Hilal club president Fahad bin Nafel. The reported transfer fee is €90 million ($98.5m).
Neymar, 31, is expected to be formally introduced to Hilal fans in Riyadh later this week, at a lavish ceremony at the club’s King Fahd International Stadium.
The Brazil international, already the world’s most expensive player, adds further lustre to the Saudi Pro League following a summer of huge investment. After Cristiano Ronaldo signed for Al Nassr in December, the kingdom has attracted this window, among others, current Ballon d’Or holder Karim Benzema, Manchester City treble-winner Riyad Mahrez, France World Cup winner N’Golo Kante, and former Liverpool quartet Jordan Henderson, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Fabinho.
Hilal, record 18-time Saudi champions, opened their 2023/24 Saudi Pro League campaign on Monday with a 3-1 win away to Abha. Malcom, Neymar’s compatriot and another summer signing, scored a hat-trick, while Hilal have also added to their ranks: Ruben Neves, Kalidou Koulibaly and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic. A move for Fulham striker Aleksandar Mitrovic is expected to be announced within the next 24 hours.
The acquisition of Neymar compares particularly to Ronaldo, at Nassr, and Benzema, at champions Al Ittihad, with the former Paris Saint-Germain player one of the most recognisable names in football.
Neymar, whose contract with PSG still had two years to run, signed with the French champions for a world-record €222 million in 2017. He has since won Ligue 1 five times, while also finishing runner-up in the 2019/20 Uefa Champions League.
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.
For Brazil, Neymar has 77 goals in 124 appearances, and competed in the past three Fifa World Cups. He is one of only a trio of Brazilians to score in three global finals, together with Pele and Ronaldo. Neymar was runner-up with his national team at the 2021 Copa America.
The Sao Paulo-born attacker 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.
However, 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.
Neymar could debut for Hilal as soon as this weekend, when last year’s Fifa Club World Cup and Asian Champions League runners-up host Al Fayha in Riyadh on Saturday.