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Neymar’s Journey to Al Hilal

This summer there has been an unexpected turn in world football with the appearance of Saudi Arabia, which, after signing Cristiano Ronaldo after the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, has been bringing a series of very important names such as Roberto Firmino, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Ruben Neves, Mahrez, Sadio Mane, N’golo Kante, and Karim Benzema, among many others. However, there is one that has just been added and is possibly one of the most publicized: Neymar to Al Hilal.

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In the cases of Cristiano Ronaldo and Benzema, the other two big names in the Saudi Pro League, Neymar is still relatively young at 31, unlike the aforementioned two who are 38 and 35, respectively. But, if we analyze the Brazilian’s career, this movement is almost logical and even expected, since despite his potential and even his reality as a world star, which at some point led him to be at a level close to that of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar, or perhaps his entourage, were prioritizing other aspects to the competitive side of things.

In his beginnings in Santos, he quickly became the star not only of the team but of all South American football. The club managed to retain him for four years after his professional debut, something that is = striking if we look at more recent cases such as those of Vinicius, Rodrygo, Endryck, or Vitor Roque, who have left Brazil at a very young age. In the case of Neymar, Santos managed to keep him longer than normal, agreeing to certain demands from his environment that prolonged his stay in his country.

After a somewhat controversial signing by FC Barcelona in 2013 due to the large number of commissions and little clarity in the transfer numbers, Neymar demonstrated his great quality in Europe along with Messi and Luis Suarez, even going as far as winning the Champions League in 2015 and scoring in the final against Juventus. However, Messi’s shadow in Barcelona is enormous and not even the best Neymar managed to overcome it, leading him to seek another destination, and PSG appeared. The French club, at the time, was (and still is) the European version of Middle Eastern money in football.

The promise of being the main star of a project that was built to dominate Europe and a huge salary were the main bases of a signing that, in addition to creating all kinds of reactions, was a record since, to date, it is the most expensive in the history of the sport. The atmosphere in Paris changed throughout the six years that the Brazilian played for PSG, both due to Neymar’s attitudes and behavior and the club’s positions on various issues, such as Kylian Mbappe’s.

This summer, the player’s desire to go out was mixed, and that is where Al Hilal appeared, having already tried to sign Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe without success and managing to take advantage of the Brazilian’s situation to take him to Arab soil. A salary of $100 million, a 25-room mansion, with eight workers, three high-end sports cars, and a 24-hour driver are some of the clauses that the Brazilian has in his contract. The club will also be responsible for many of Neymar’s expenses during his leisure time, such as travel and hotels.

Despite all this, it is rumored that this stint in Saudi Arabia will be something like one or two years, as the Brazilian star will have the 2026 FIFA World Cup in his sights, which he sees as his chance to win the sixth star for his national team, and for this, he would return to a European club that allows him to be called up. Therefore, this move to Al Hilal would not be the start of Neymar’s retirement.

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