A former FC Barcelona and Al-Hilal player has accused Neymar of “throwing in the towel” at the top level by joining the Saudi Pro League giants.
Paris Saint-Germain sold the Brazilian to Al-Hilal for a fee that could reach €100 million ($109.3 million).
And while the 31-year-old could reach the top of Forbes’ list of World’s Highest-Paid Athletes in its next addition, with reported earnings of €100 million which will be complimented by his off-field earnings, many in his homeland and beyond have scoffed at him making the move in terms of his legacy.
Jonathan Soriano, a DAZN commentator who once formed part of Barca’s first team in 2009 and then passed through Al-Hilal a decade later, is certainly one disapproving voice.
“Neymar has enough quality to lead a team that seeks to win the Champions League and I see that he has thrown in the towel,” Soriano said, on the DAZN Transfer show.
“Now that Cristiano [Ronaldo] and [Lionel] Messi are no longer there [in Europe] and that he could lead world football along with [Kylian] Mbappé, [Erling] Haaland and the new players who are emerging, he has decided to earn more money.”
Furthermore, Soriano warned that it might not be easy adapting to culture and liftstyle in the Middle East.
“I had my difficulties, going to Saudi Arabia with a wife and three daughters is not the best idea,” Soriano said, with Neymar’s partner Bruna Biancardi currently pregnant with a baby girl.
While Neymar can be viewed as lacking ambition, however, it seems that he lacked suitors in Europe’s top leagues after PSG put him on he market in May and new head coach Luis Enrique, along with sporting director Luis Campos, told him that he did not form part of their project in 2023/2024.
The forward was heavily linked to a possible return to FC Barcelona, but with the Catalans’ financial woes in mind, that was never a realistic prospect unless he was first bought by Al-Hilal and then loaned out to the La Liga champions which the Saudis weren’t willing to entertain.
While president Joan Laporta was reportedly sure Neymar would boost revenue for Barca at a time they will lose €90 million ($98.3 million) by temporarily relocating to the Montjuic Stadium as Camp Nou is being renovated, Xavi wasn’t convinced by the potential move and thought his former teammate could pose a disruptive influence in the locker room.