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Neymar: 'I had to hold back the tears'

ESPN staff
June 3, 2013 « Live County Championship coverage | Chartbeat test »
Neymar is officially unveiled as a Barcelona player

Neymar said he was looking forward to settling in alongside the world's best player Lionel Messi as Barcelona's new £50 million signing was unveiled at the Nou Camp on Monday evening.

The 21-year-old forward flew straight from Brazil after playing for his country in Sunday's 2-2 draw with England at the Maracana. Arriving late at the city's El Prat Airport, the starlet was whisked straight to the Nou Camp where he passed a medical without complications, put pen-to-paper on a new five-year contract which includes a £160 million release clause, and was presented to more than 50,000 fans inside the stadium.

He then told the gathered press pack that the move was a dream come true.

"I am very grateful to have the opportunity to play with so many great players," Neymar said. "Players I have admired since I was a boy. All the Barca players - Messi, Xavi, Iniesta - this is a new stage in my life. I am very happy, it was very emotional to go onto the pitch at the Nou Camp, the way the fans applauded me, I had to hold back the tears.

"I am living a dream, not a dream of Neymar the grown-up, but a dream of Neymar the child. I want my name to go into Barca's history."

Neymar added he was really looking forward to playing alongside Messi, but he was not thinking of competing directly with his fellow South-American.

"I myself am not concerned about being the best player in the world," he said. "The best player in the world is here - it is Leo Messi. I am really pleased, as I am so lucky to play alongside him, and hopefully help him remain the best player in the world. I hope I adapt as quickly as possible to playing here."

Asked about interest from other clubs - including Real Madrid - Neymar said he had followed his heart while making his decision to join Barca. "These are two great clubs, no doubt about that," he said. "I am really pleased they both wanted to sign me, but I followed my heart, and here I am - a Barca player. We have received offers of more money, but it is not just a question of money."

Also at the event Barca vice-president Jose Maria Bartomeu revealed that the total cost of the transfer was £50 million, which was paid directly to four different stakeholders.

"The negotiations began quite a while back, maybe two years ago," Bartomeu said. "Our coaching staff told us that they would like to have Neymar as a Barca player, back in 2011. The negotiations were very long and sometimes quite difficult, involving four parties - Santos, DIS, Teisa and another sporting consultancy. The percentages paid to each are a matter of confidentiality."

Bartomeu said the total deal included a £10 million down-payment made last year, plus two home and away friendlies to be played against Santos in the future and first option on some youngsters at the Brazilian club. The executive also admitted that moves by other interested clubs - presumably Madrid - had complicated the talks and meant a higher overall figure in the end.

"I do not know about Real Madrid, but the intervention of other clubs meant that the ceiling of £40 million we set last season had to be increased," he said. "But we are not concerned about that, we are delighted to have him here."

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