Neymar did not want to challenge the status of Lionel Messi as Barcelona’s undisputed star, according to the forward’s father.
The 25-year-old completed his world-record €222million move to Paris Saint-Germain on Thursday after teaming up with the five-time Ballon d’Or winner for four successful seasons at Camp Nou.
Neymar Sr revealed his son never wanted to challenge the position of Messi at Barca out of respect for the Argentina international, but insists moving to PSG is not about boosting his chances of winning the Ballon d’Or.
Neymar Sr told COPE: “Imagine a place where you are the protagonist of a club, where you are the idol of that club and everyone wants to transform you into the star that you do not want to be.
“Messi is the star and will always be the star. Not only because of the love and respect that Neymar has for Leo, he is his idol.
“Imagine that everyone said that Neymar has to be Messi’s substitute, he does not want to be his substitute. You have to leave Messi, he is the idol at Barcelona.
“Neymar has to make his own way and accept the challenge he has. I think my son has been a man, shown respect [to Messi] and now he has to go his own way.
“He could go to any club and be in the spotlight, not that he wants to be number one. He is taking a risk. Can PSG guarantee him the Ballon d’Or? No. And it is crazy that people believe that. It would be easier at Barca, with the help of that team.”
— PSG Officiel (@PSG_inside) August 4, 2017
While Neymar sought opinions over whether he should go ahead with his Barca departure, the final decision was the player’s alone.
“It was his decision,” added Neymar Sr. “He was at the club he had dreamt of. He was comfortable, calm, but it was a choice.
“He listened to the advice of his friends, he listened to the people around him. He wanted to rise to this challenge. He had the right to make that decision. Now he is following his destiny and I think he has had a lot of courage.
“I think he wanted to change his destiny, but I cannot summarise [the reasons]. Several feelings led to his view that he had to make that change. We waited for the right moment, with enough time to have the peace of mind to choose.
“We had that time and when he came back from China, he made the decision and we will respect and support him. We communicated his exit to the club and we asked Paris to pay his release clause.
“He was proud of everything he did with Barca and left through the front door. People forget how things have gone.”
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