Brazilian star Neymar, newly arrived in Paris, took advantage of his first public appearance to say that he would be ready to play for Paris Saint-Germain on Saturday if the club wished.
Only a couple of hours after landing at Le Bourget airport, Neymar took the stage before journalists alongside club president Nasser Al-Khelaifi to say that his decision to leave Barcelona had been “one of the most difficult decisions I ever took.”
The player, whose transfer cost PSG a record-breaking 222 million euros (263 million dollars), denied that he had been motivated by either money or the desire to have top billing after being often overshadowed in Barcelona by team-mate Lionel Messi.
“This is not what I’m really looking for in Paris – [I’m looking for] new trophies, new challenges, and that’s what motivates me,” Neymar insisted.
Anyone who thought he moved for money “don’t know anything about my personal life,” he added. “I was never motivated by money.”
Asked if he was ready to play at PSG’s opening Ligue 1 match on Saturday against Amiens, Neymar said: “I’m ready, I’m happy, I’ve seen the pitch … but I will speak with the staff, I will wait for their green light.”
The star forward said he did not yet know what position he would play in on the team, although he has been assigned the number 10 jersey – which is already selling rapidly at the club’s shops – passed on from Javier Pastore.
“I haven’t discussed it with the coach yet,” he said.
Al-Khelaifi meanwhile shrugged off suggestions that his prize catch had been excessively expensive.
“When you look at Neymar as a brand with PSG, I don’t think that it is expensive actually, because we’re going to make much more money than what we paid,” the Qatari businessman said.
“For me personally, Neymar is the best player in the world,” Al-Khelaifi said as he introduced him.
“Our fans have always dreamt of having Neymar here at Paris Saint-Germain.
“Neymar signed with us to win all the trophies we can win this season and in the coming season,” Al-Khelaifi said.
But he refused to give hostages to fortune when asked if this year would see PSG win the Champions League for the first time.
“Our aim is to win the Champion’s League, it’s always there,” he said. “We can’t say that this year we’re going to win the Champions League. We’re going to fight for it to be sure.”
Neymar’s private jet had touched down mid-morning after a Thursday of feverish speculation, with the Spanish league LFP initially rejecting his transfer payment and arguing that it breached UEFA financial fair play regulations.